Weatherford Democrat

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August 22, 2013

Falling through the cracks

With 4 miles of sidewalks considered unsafe or in disrepair, city considering repair assistance program

By BRIAN SMITH

Weatherford Public Works officials are looking to start a pilot program in the new fiscal year that will aid homeowners with deteriorating sidewalks.

Before any work can begin, however, the Sidewalk Repair Assistance Program still needs to be approved by city council members. Public Works Director Manny Palacios said he had considered starting the program in recent years but sees a deteriorating of sidewalks around people’s homes every day. A recent million-dollar lawsuit in Arlington concerning a homeowner’s sidewalk is something Palacios and his staff are trying to avoid.

“We don’t want to be in the situation where people are getting sued for their sidewalks,” Palacios said.

Palacios said of the 15 miles of sidewalks in the city, roughly four miles are considered unsafe or in deteriorating condition. Under the preliminary proposal, property owners would be assisted with fixing their sidewalks. If the program is approved, residents could contact the Public Works department, which would conduct an inspection of the sidewalk itself and rate it by priority and need for work. A cost estimate would then be mailed to the resident.

A city-approved contractor would then do the concrete work, which the resident would pay for. Once payment is received and the funding is available, work would then be scheduled. The city would then handle the cost of excavation and removal along with barrier-free ramps and curb repairs associated with the project, according to a press release.

Taking part in the program would have benefits to the homeowner including low per-unit cost using city bid pricing, having right-of-way excavation permit fees waived, city inspection to ensure quality and Americans with Disability Act requirements and having the project complete within about two months.

Under the provisions of the still needed to be approved program, only sidewalks in single-family residential neighborhoods, located on lots occupied by single-family homes, would be eligible for the $15,000 first-year program. Depending on the success of the program, the budget could be expanded in future years if and when the program is approved.

Work on some downtown sidewalks would also be considered under the proposed program, Palacios said. Consideration on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget is ongoing with final decisions expected in the next month or so.

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