Damage from street tree roots has prompted the city of Hagerstown to repair uneven sidewalks on South Prospect Street next calendar year, including those considered to be property owners' responsibility.
City staff got the nod Tuesday from the city council to bid for replacing all of the uneven and damaged sidewalks on South Prospect Street.
To maintain uniformity in the historic neighborhood — which has its own standards in the city code regarding curbs and sidewalks — the city plans to bid and complete all of the repair work and set up some mechanism for property owners to repay the city for their portions of the project, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said.
"It was my understanding that the council gave staff it's blessing to do that up there and see how it goes," he said.
Only about a quarter of the sidewalks along South Prospect Street need repaired or replaced, he said.
The city will bid the project this winter and use $235,000 in reprogrammed 2009 bond proceeds to complete the work, which is proposed to start next spring, he said.
About $160,000 of the project is the city's responsibility, Tissue said. Under city code, the city is responsible for repairing or replacing curbs and sidewalks damaged by street trees. An additional estimated $75,000 in needed repairs are the responsibility of property owners, he said.
Councilman Lewis C. Metzner noted that this project could set a precedent for how the city handles curb and sidewalk repair in the future.
Currently, the city notifies property owners that they need to replace or repair their sidewalks and it is their responsibility to do so.
Tissue said about $500,000 worth of curbs and sidewalks are repaired annually by property owners.
Most receive notice of need to repair or replace when their street is targeted for overlay.
Exploring ways to finance sidewalks in other neighborhoods is something Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said he would like to see the city pursue.
Exactly how the city will handle repayment from property owners for the South Prospect Street project and what will be included in the final scope of work remains to be determined, Tissue said.
"It will take several meetings and a lot of discussion to define the scope of the work," he said.
The city is working with the Historic Heights Neighborhoods 1st group to develop a plan to address the streetscape.
Part of the plan will include removing and replacing the trees that have affected sidewalks and curbs.
Tissue said the city plans to replace the trees that are removed with ones that have roots that will not damage sidewalks.
A preliminary cost estimate shows the city removing 15 trees as part of the project and planting 25 new trees.
According to the city code, all sidewalks along the street "shall have a brick surface," so any that are repaired or replaced will be brick, Tissue said.