Shel Silverstein wrote "Where the Sidewalk Ends," but Grandview Heights leaders soon could write a sequel that could end the financial onus of sidewalks on residents.
The city plans to conduct a review of the condition of sidewalks throughout the city to help determine the feasibility of a proposal to take away the responsibility of sidewalk repair and replacement work from homeowners.
Councilman Steve Reynolds has sponsored legislation to transfer the financial burden from property owners to the city.
City Council tabled the ordinance until its Feb. 4 meeting after some on council expressed concern about passing an ordinance without knowing how much money the change in policy would cost the city.
Reynolds said adding sidewalk repairs to the slate of projects the city funds each year likely would not be too burdensome, considering the hundreds of thousands of dollars it spends annually on road improvements and other infrastructure projects.
"I just don't think it would add that much to the budget," he said.
What it would do is relieve residents of a financial weight, Reynolds said.
"It's a nuisance and burdensome for many of our residents to have to address sidewalk repairs," he said. "This would be a way to alleviate our residents of that cost. For some, it's a financial hardship."
According to Angie's List, the cost to replace a sidewalk 4 feet wide and 50 feet long could range from $1,000 to $3,000, though simple repairs cost far less.
By taking on the cost of all sidewalk repairs, the city would be able to "take advantage of the economy of scale" by asking a single contractor to complete all the work, Reynolds said.
"There would be cost savings that our individual residents can't achieve," he said. "It would also help us continue to promote Grandview as a pedestrian-friendly city."
Reynolds' legislation also proposes changing the time for the department of building and zoning to present the list of sidewalks needing repair or replacement from April to October.
"It would then coincide with the start of our budget process for the following year," he said.
"I like the idea of helping out our residents," said Councilwoman Emily Keeler, who has served as chairwoman of council's planning and administration committee, the council subgroup to which the legislation was assigned.
But Keeler added she didn't know if she could support that idea without knowing what the total cost would be for the city.
"It's not something we should move forward with until we have some of those questions answered," she said.
Along with the cost, there is the question of how a city-funded sidewalk program would be implemented and what the impact would be on other departments, Keeler said.
Mayor Ray DeGraw said the administration isn't totally closed to the idea of the city taking on more of the cost of sidewalk repairs, but "we need to understand what the scope of this would be and the impact it would have on the city financially," he said.
An assessment of all the sidewalks in the city will offer a clearer picture, DeGraw said.
Current city code requires residents to pay the cost of construction or repair of sidewalks, curbs and gutters.
The city inspects the sidewalks in a different zone of the city each year, with the entire city covered every four years, DeGraw said.
In the past, the city has notified residents of needed sidewalk repairs on their properties and their responsibility to pay for it.
If residents do not take care of the issue within a designated time, the city makes the repairs and assesses the cost on property-tax bills, he said.
That policy has been relaxed a bit in recent years as the city has turned its focus to road improvements and other infrastructure projects that were deferred during leaner financial times, DeGraw said.
One possible option that could come out of the study is finding a middle ground wherein the city could provide assistance or pay upfront for sidewalk projects and be reimbursed in part or in full by property owners, he said.
The city already covers the cost of any sidewalk repairs caused by city street trees or other infrastructure projects, DeGraw said.
"Our residents don't have to pay for the sidewalk repairs if it's something the city has caused," he said.
The study will review where sidewalk repairs are needed and what the estimated cost of the repairs would be, DeGraw said.
He said the study likely would take several months to complete.
"I still hope we can get this legislation through this year," Reynolds said.