May 24, 2012


City sidewalk program nearly full

3 spots left for residents to get up to $700 from city to replace concrete

Staff Reporter

The city is offering up to $700 to homeowners to replace their sidewalks in an effort to improve the appearance of the community.
Property owners can still apply for the program, though spots are going fast, said Ann Hotchkin, program manager for Thoma Development. Fourteen people in the city have already signed up and there are just three spots remaining.
The city will contribute $11,000 this year to help property owners replace their sidewalks. The money comes from the city’s revolving loan fund as businesses repay their loans back to the city.
The city has offered a sidewalk program for about 30 years, Hotchkin said. The city sets aside money every year to help property owners replace their sidewalks. The city will provide 50 percent of the material cost for the sidewalk replacement. The maximum city contribution for a single project is $700.
The application is available on the city’s website and should be submitted to Thoma Development on Tompkins Street.
Last year, a sidewalk block cost an average of about $200 for a 5-foot square block.
The goal of the program is to encourage owners to improve their properties, which improves the appearance of the community as a whole.
Participants are selected on a first-come, first-served basis.
The program is available to city residential owners. Income and owner-occupied properties are eligible.
“The money tends to go very quickly,” Hotchkin said.
The application for the program says: “It is the city’s intention to encourage replacement of those sidewalks that pose a blighting influence on the surrounding property and/or contribute to inadequate sidewalk situations.”
The applicants must find a qualified sidewalk contractor to do the work. The contractor must get a free permit from the city’s Department of Public Works before beginning work.
The village of Homer also has a sidewalk replacement program, but officials from the village could not be reached by press time.
The goal is for all city sidewalk replacement work to be completed by Oct. 1.
“I think the fact we always run out of money so quickly shows the popularity of the program,” Hotchkin said.
Hotchkin estimated the city has helped about 20 property owners a year through the sidewalk program. Over 30 years, that would be about 600 properties.
Mayor Brian Tobin said the sidewalk program is valuable because it encourages homeowners to make changes that “reflect well on the community.”
“Over time, they (the side walks) get broken up,” Tobin said. “I think the program is a good way to encourage property owners to make sure their sidewalks are flat, safe and in a condition people can travel on them easily.”
Tobin said sidewalks are ultimately property owners’ responsibility. He said the city is not targeting any particular area for the program, but there are sections throughout the city that could use replacement.
“The more we take care of our sidewalks, the more it reflects positively on our community,” Tobin said.


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