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Sidewalk law changes

First Ward neighbors,
I would like to bring your attention to proposed changes which will be coming up for a vote on the City’s Sidewalk Program.
As you may know, the current City sidewalk policy requires that property owners who are adjacent to an existing sidewalk or proposed sidewalk are responsible for installing, repairing and maintaining that sidewalk.  This creates a situation where an adjacent property owner may receive a directive from the City to install new, or replace damaged sidewalk squares, with associated expenses sometimes in the thousands of dollars.  This not only places the financial burden on select property owners for creating and maintaining sidewalks which are a public good for the benefit of all, but also limits the installation of new sidewalk in areas like West Hill where the terrain is steep or rocky and would result in astronomical costs to the adjacent property owner.
The proposed new program works to distribute the costs in a more equitable way by creating sidewalk benefit districts, and all property owners (except Cornell, which has aggressively installed and maintained their sidewalks) would be assessed an annual fee.  Funds raised in each district would be used to pay for new and replacement sidewalk and associated pedestrian improvements in that district.  The current proposal would assess a flat fee of $70 to properties with 1-2 family homes on it, and a fee of $140 to other higher-density and commercial properties, with high-density and commercial properties paying additional fees based on street frontage and square footage.  A credit would be given to property owners who have installed permitted sidewalks in the last 20 years, with the benefit proportionately distributed over that time.
You can review the proposed sidewalk program for complete details:
As my Council colleague Donna Fleming indicates below, there are several good articles which have been recently published (see PDF of July 16th article: Sidewalk Proposal) on this topic and may also be helpful.
Opportunities for public comment on this proposal are:   (at Council Chambers, City Hall, 3rd Floor, 108 E. Green Street)
  • Wednesday, August 7, 6pm, Common Council meeting
  • Monday, August 12, 4:45pm, Board of Public Works meeting
  • Wednesday, August 21, 6pm, Common Council Government Performance and Accountability meeting
  • Monday, August 26, 4:45pm, Board of Public Works meeting
  • Wednesday, September 4, 6pm, Common Council meeting
You may also send your comments in writing to Ari Lavine at alavine@cityofithaca.org

Council will be voting on the proposed changes to the City’s Sidewalk Policy on September 4th.

If I can help answer any of your questions, or to receive your thoughts or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at 607 398-0883.

Cynthia Brock
First Ward Alderperson

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