Archive for Thursday, May 24, 2012

Program to help with sidewalk repairs

May 24, 2012


For some homeowners in low-income Lawrence neighborhoods, a busted sidewalk could lead to a busted bank account.

City regulations make property owners responsible for the repair and maintenance of public sidewalks that run through their properties. But the city’s Public Works Department now is starting a program aimed at helping homeowners who can’t afford to pay what often amounts to several hundred dollars to repair just a few feet of sidewalk.

“We’ve approached people before, and the debate is they are looking at either paying their electric bill or fixing their sidewalk,” said Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works.

City commissioners recently directed $40,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to the Public Works Department to start a program that would have the city pay for repair costs that normally are the responsibility of property owners. Because of the nature of the grant funding, only sidewalks in neighborhoods designated as low-to-moderate income in nature will be eligible for the city funds.

The $40,000 in funding also won’t provide enough money to fix all the sidewalks in town. Soules estimated it costs about $40 per linear foot to remove and replace damaged sidewalks.

“There are obviously some really bad sidewalks out there,” Soules said. “I think we will focus on the ones that are just in shambles.”

Soules said his department hasn’t yet developed the details of the program and isn’t yet taking applications. He said one consideration is whether the city will require homeowners to match at least a portion of the city’s investment. That would allow city funding to stretch further, but may exclude some households with particularly low incomes.

Properties eligible for the program will be determined by census data for their neighborhoods. The city’s website includes a list of low-to-moderate income neighborhoods that qualify for Community Development Block Grant programs. A majority of neighborhoods east of Iowa Street would qualify for the program.

Carol Bowen, a longtime advocate for better planning for pedestrians, said she was pleased the city was giving the new approach a chance.

“I see dangerous sidewalks all the time while I’m out walking,” Bowen said. “There are a lot damaged by tree roots and a lot that just have potholes.”

The Public Works Department for the past several years has received Community Development Block Grant money for sidewalk work. But previously the CDBG money was used to fill gaps in the sidewalk system. Soules said this will be the first year the department has run an extensive program to repair existing sidewalks scattered throughout the city.

Soules said he hopes to have details for the program finalized later this summer and for work to begin in the fall.


waiting 5 years, 10 months ago

Of course they start this just after they make me spend over $3,000 to replace our sidewalk.

waiting 5 years, 10 months ago

It's called credit, not money. They give you a deadline to have the work done.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 10 months ago

Why doesn't the city start with something simple.

Enforce businesses and landlords repairing and maintaining their sidewalks. It should be considered a cost of doing business for such individuals. This would solve a great majority of the problems since a large percentage of the poor sidewalks I see on a daily basis abut rental or business properties.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

Interesting that even with a program in place to assist homeowners, it's businesses that you feel should bear the brunt of enforcement. You do realize that we've been in a recession and that many businesses, like many homeowners, are struggling. But no bailout for businesses, just homeowners. And still enforcement for them and amnesty for you? How about this, enforce the regulations fairly. Everyone gets treated equally. Enforcement for all, or none, but done uniformly. Equal under the law.

walkthehawk 5 years, 10 months ago

actually, businesses in Kansas just received an epic bailout, courtesy of our Governor and set to take effect until 2014. it's balanced on the backs of schoolchildren, our seniors, the kids in foster care, and those in line for disability benefits. the kids in this equation have done nothing to make them less meritorious of a quality education, decent housing, nutritious food, and opportunities--but you want to talk about "fairness," and demand that all of us use your construction of that idea, any time you see an entry in your business's expense column. newsflash: that isn't "fair." it's self-centered, and the irony is, this kind of thinking doesn't even benefit the individuals arguing for it in the medium-to-long run. there are real consequences to taking all available resources with no thought to the betterment of the whole, but lately, we seem intent on calling that attitude "Americanism."

jhawkinsf 5 years, 10 months ago

I fear you may have misinterpreted my comment. I am certainly pro-business. They provide jobs. And I've advocated for tax breaks for local projects giving as justification that those projects will provide jobs. I'm all for jobs, good all-fashioned jobs, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, that sort of thing. Yet I am also pro-homeownership. Our system of homeownership, with the interest deduction we get has allowed Americans to accumulate wealth and to pass it on to the next generation in ways other countries would envy. I'm also very much pro-school. I've spoken frequently about the need to fund schools and have called for increases in school funding. I've also called for maintaining a high level of services for the disabled, etc. And lastly, if you've read my posts before, you'll know that I've described our current governor a buffoon. Hopefully that will convey my feelings about his current policies. But my comment was not so much a commentary on any of those in particular as it was a suggestion that laws and regulations be applied fairly. My response was to a suggestion that city codes be enforced for one group and not another. That's not fair, in my opinion. Now if you were to ask me where all this money is going to come from, I'd call for tax increases. On you and on me. On big business and the poor. On everyone, no exceptions. That, too, in my opinion would be fair.
Now you may say, how can you call for tax breaks for local projects and tax increases for all. That's an obvious contradiction. Yes it is. Because in the absence of the tax system I would like to see, we have this jigsaw puzzle where we're constantly trying to figure out how many apples equals one orange. We'll never figure that one out. And as long as we try, we'll never find that mythical "fairness" everyone describes. Business will compete with the military which competes with social programs which competes with infrastructure, etc. Just figure out how much money we need to run our country, and everyone pays 20%, or 22% or whatever it works out to. Then if you want to cut taxes, cut spending.

tir 5 years, 10 months ago


Where was this program when I needed it? Several years ago a "sidewalk vigilante" ratted out half our block (may they rot, or better yet, have someone rat YOU out). I ended up paying a pile of $$$ to replace my walk, $$$ I could ill afford. I spoke with the mayor and a city commissioner and Dave Corliss and his minions to see if I could get any help with the cost. All I got were excuses, empty promises, and threat letters from the city. My tax dollars at work--NOT. I'm glad that now someone will get some help with their sidewalk repairs, but I wish it would have come sooner so I could have benefited from it.

waiting 5 years, 10 months ago

Pretty much the same experience. What some people don't realize is when they turn in one property, the city inspector must do the entire block and it then involves several properties of people that may not be able to afford it.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

Landlords fix anything related to their properties? Get real. Ordinances mean nothing to the local real estate industry leadership.

Enforcement will not happen because the enforcement powers that be are also elected officials/landlords. Many of their friends are also equally negligent landlords.

Campaign funding would go down the tubes and socializing between each other could get a little rough.

Simple as that...

In spite of the fact that enforcement might repair several miles of sidewalks in Lawrence,Ks.

LadyJ 5 years, 10 months ago

If the city is paying $40 a linear foot, they are paying too much. Just figured out our bid and it is $28 a linear foot. It anyone at the city wants to contact me, I'll give them the name of the contractor.

overthemoon 5 years, 10 months ago

How wide is your sidewalk? And did you have a lot done or just a few feet? The lf cost goes down on a long run.

JerryStubbs 5 years, 10 months ago

It's in black and white in our city codes that homeowners build and maintain their own sidewalks that are within the city's easement for the street right of way that in on the homeowner's property. If we did it the other way, ie the city build's and maintain's those sidewalks, we would have to raise taxes because there is currently no tax collected for that purpose.

Do you want to raise taxes? Do you want the city to pour a concrete sidewalk in front of your house even though you might want a yellow brick sidewalk?

What I wonder is how there are stretches of streets on/bordering University or city controlled property that have no sidewalk at all. I would guess eventually those will get built. There are also private residences with no sidewalk that would seem to be in violation of the code. I don;t know how or why they get away with it.

ineedhelpnotaloan 5 years, 10 months ago

i wish pleasant hill,mo would do something like this. i have a wheel chair that i can not use in town.

Loretta James 5 years, 9 months ago

I hope that some of you never have to resort to using a wheel chair mine is a hoveround there are many places i have to use the street because the sidewalk is impassable or it goes a few hundred feet then dumps you in a yard which is had to do even in a power chair. once i got on sidewalk going west on 27th and couldent get off because the ramp was tore up had to wind up going back went home because i didnt want to have to use the street. traffic dont watch out for wheelchairs either.

Acey 5 years, 9 months ago

I was just having a look at our cracked sidewalk, wondering what the deal is regarding repair. Over the years, I have patched over the cracks. For a while, that was enough. Now I think I ought to have three or four "squares" that need to be dug out and done over. Any of you know whether there are "cement mixers" (concrete is the actual material) that will come and "pour" (place) the stuff for an old lady? Or do I have to buy the ingredients and mix my own?

We have a wheelchair user in our house, too. Out here in Turnpike Vue Estates, sidewalks appear and abruptly end, and there aren't any sidewalks on either side, all of a sudden. It is impossible for adults wheeling carriages, kids on trikes and folks with challenges to get very far.

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