Oct 30, 2007 Cassandra Mocyk Uncategorized
The sidewalks in the village of Baldwinsville have not been repaired in approximately 80 years.
Mayor Joseph Saraceni is ready to make a change, and he said he believes many residents should take advantage of the fair program the village board, along with the department of public works and code enforcement office, has been working on as a solution to the deteriorating sidewalks.
The plan, though not yet finalized, would allow residents to have their sidewalks repaired through a contract with the village. The residents would then pay back the cost of the repair, including interest, over a three-year period of time.
A main concern with many residents is the cost of the repair. Village trustee David Mott addressed the financial issue in the Oct. 19 village board meeting.
“Consider — we need to be sensitive to the people of the village who may not be prepared to immediately settle right way,” Mott said. “If they’re aware they’re targeted to have their sidewalk repaired, give them a schedule — a year out — and let them prepare.”
Mott also said that with the amount of disrepair, especially in older sections of the village, cost is the reason why the work has been put off for such a long period of time.
“I don’t think there’s a person out there who doesn’t know if their sidewalk needs repair,” he said. “We just have to be sensitive.”
Mayor Saraceni said he plans to give residents eight or nine months to prepare financially. He also pointed out the many options that residents have when it comes to the upkeep of their sidewalks.
“This is not a mandatory program,” he said. “People can contract it out, if they have a friend (in the business) they can have them do the work.”
At the Oct. 18 meeting, village attorney Ron Carr said if the village can announce the amount per square foot the village program would cost at a public hearing, then the residents would be able to calculate, ahead of time, how they would be assessed by the village and if they would want to use the program.
“It gives them the ability to make a decision,” Carr said.
Village trustee Richard Presley agreed with this plan.
“If they know they have to pay one third of the cost plus interest each time taxes come, at least they’ll know how much (is owed) and when (it’s due), so they can plan,” he said.
Another concern that surfaced during the board meeting was the plan for residents who do not have sidewalks. Mott acknowledged that many residents, especially in older sections of the village, do not have sidewalks and he asked if these people would be out of code.
Carr pointed out if there was never a sidewalk there, then there is nothing saying they need one.
“They are the benefited properties,” he said. “They don’t have to be a part of the program.”
Mayor Saraceni said he would further look into this matter, as he believes a lack of a sidewalk could be a safety issue.
Paul Fritz of Environmental Design & Research P.C., the company that designed the Baldwinsville Central Business District Strategic Development Plan, added insight to the already proposed widening of the sidewalks from his company’s plan.
“Anytime you can try and improve the sidewalks, it’s a good thing,” he said. “As far as planning principle and good design, expanding sidewalks as much as possible when the opportunity arises can really improve the safety for pedestrians and it has a lot to do with image.”
Mayor Saraceni said he spoke with village treasurer Lynn Campbell to make sure the village could handle the financial aspects of the proposed plan.
“She ensured me that it’s doable,” Saraceni said.
The village board plans to split Baldwinsville into “districts” to make the repair feasible. The superintendent of public works, Claude Sykes, said he and his workers are still doing an inventory on the amount of work that needs to be done, which he hopes to be completed by next week.
“Once we get a handle on how much needs to be replaced, then we can split it up and determine a plan,” he said.
Sykes estimates the entire project will take five to eight years, though Mayor Saraceni said he hopes for the repairs to be completed in four or five years total.
Saraceni said as long as the weather continues to hold out, the village will work on this plan. He said he hopes to have the beginning stages started by next spring or summer.
One option that would help with the cost of the repair is receiving grant money. Sykes said there is a grant available, though the village does not yet have all the information needed, that would target the sidewalks in a two-mile radius around the elementary and middle schools in Baldwinsville.
With five elementary schools and a middle school, Sykes believes this would encompass most of the village and be very helpful in making the desired improvements.
This particular grant, he said, only provides $39 million for the entire state, so he is unsure if there will be ample money available for Baldwinsville.
The final cost of the project is unknown, though Sykes estimated it would be around $2 million or more. At the Oct. 4 board meeting, Sykes reported that approximately 63 percent of the village’s sidewalks needed to be replaced.
At the Oct. 18 meeting, Sykes said as the surveying continues, the percentage is getting worse, though he admits the sidewalks didn’t get that way overnight.
“That’s what 80 years will do to you,” Saraceni said.