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Resolutions would require ongoing sidewalk, road repairs

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A pair of resolutions to be considered by the Roswell City Council are a starting point in chipping away at concerns about sidewalk conditions and keeping the council accountable on road repairs, one councilor said.

The City Council’s Infrastructure Committee voted unanimously Monday to recommend the resolutions for the full council’s next meeting on May 13.

Both resolutions were initiated by Councilor Jacob Roebuck, who chairs the Infrastructure Committee. Each proposed resolution would direct the city manager to, at least once a year, submit a prioritized list of repairs for sidewalks and city streets and require a capital allocation every year for ongoing repairs of each.

Both state statute and city code require property owners to install and maintain sidewalks, but Roebuck said the expense can prevent some property owners from making repairs.

“For some of our homeowners, even a small portion of sidewalk, you’re looking at repairs at the minimum of $5,000. And so we basically have laws that are effectively unenforceable from an economic standpoint,” he said.

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He said it’s not politically viable for the city to ticket property owners with bad sidewalks and force them to repair them, either.

The city has attempted to create programs to help property owners, but has yet to come up with a plan, he said.

“I don’t see a good solution right around the corner. I certainly in my own mind can’t figure out what the solution is. However, we do have a good portion of our constituency that would like us to do something about sidewalks,” he said.

The resolution is intended to bypass the legal question of responsibility as best as possible and identify sidewalks that would be in the best interest of the community to repair, such as those in high-traffic areas, he said.

City Manager Joe Neeb said the resolution is a starting point for developing a plan. He said city staff has made a couple of presentations on the topic in the past, and the city once offered assistance for those with low income, but no written policy on that has been found.

“What I’m hoping for is that Community Development and the Engineering Department will work together, will help identify the plan,” Neeb said.

“We don’t know exactly how much we could spend but we’ll make an educated guess,” he said.

Neeb said the city staff has taken maps from previous presentations identifying city parks and schools and overlaying those with maps of the city’s arterial and collector streets to help identify where safe walking paths might be needed.

“It gives us a very clear picture as to the areas that really need to be looked at,” Neeb said.

Roebuck pointed out College Boulevard as one of those areas.

“It wasn’t designed as a main thoroughfare from east to west. It certainly has become that. And then we have Cielo Grande out there but we don’t really have any great sidewalks going down College (Boulevard) to that facility,” he said.

The roads resolution is intended more to hold the City Council accountable in paying attention to road repairs, much as the annual manhole rehabilitation project keeps the city moving forward on those repairs, Roebuck said.

“I feel like that, because of whatever crisis was in budgeting or whatever, it’s been really easy for the council to say, ‘Well, just spend money on the big streets because they’re the most important because they get all the traffic.’ But that makes all our little streets sort of a ticking time bomb because they deteriorate as well,” Roebuck said.

Peterson supported the resolution because he said streets are the top concern for residents. He said if voters could decide on a bond issue dedicated to improving streets, they would probably approve it.

“I think they would pass that because that’s going to go to something they can relate to right away,” he said.

Councilor Margaret Kennard agreed.

“Redoing the streets, maintaining them or rebuilding from the bottom up is the most tangible thing that we can do that citizens can see and appreciate,” she said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.