Grandview Heights has implemented a new policy that gives property owners two options for having damaged residential sidewalks repaired or replaced.
Under the policy, put in place in mid-June, property owners can arrange to have the work completed by a contractor of their choice, or they can agree to have the city use a contractor to complete the work and pay the city before it begins.
The policy was put in place after Grandview Heights City Council voted 4-2 on June 3 against an ordinance that would have seen the city assume all financial responsibility for sidewalk improvements.
"The majority of council agreed the issue should be addressed administratively, and that's what we're trying to do with this new policy," Mayor Ray DeGraw said.
"At the same time, we listened to the concerns that some residents have had about the difficulty they may have finding a contractor or paying for sidewalk projects at their properties," he said.
Contractors have so many projects to do, it could be hard for property owners to find one willing and able to do a small, individual project in a timely manner, DeGraw said.
The option to have the city make the arrangements is designed to ease that worry, he said.
"We think giving property owners that choice will help get the sidewalks repaired more quickly," DeGraw said.
The city will continue following its established policy to pay for repair of sidewalk damage caused by street trees, he said.
The city is conducting its annual sidewalk inspection program this summer. About a quarter of the city's sidewalks are inspected each year, DeGraw said.
Sidewalk sections that need to be replaced are identified with a painted green "X." Portions of a sidewalk that need to be leveled to reduce tripping hazards are marked with a green line.
Notices are left at the property listing a date by which the sidewalk repair or replacement must be completed.
The city will replace damaged sidewalks at a cost of $250 per section. Uneven sections will be ground down for $25.
"One of the goals of the policy is to help us (in) getting more compliance with repairing sidewalks without having to place a lien on the property," DeGraw said. "We think giving property owners options will help get the sidewalks repaired more quickly."
In correcting sidewalk damage caused by street trees, the sections are marked with a painted white "X" and the repairs are handled by the parks and recreation department, DeGraw said.
Councilman Steve Reynolds, who sponsored the ordinance to have the city pay the entire cost of sidewalk repairs, said the new policy "is a step in the right direction.
"It helps reduce some of the financial burden for our residents, because there will be a certain economy of scale by having the city arrange for multiple projects to be done by a contractor and it might eliminate some of the headaches for residents by having the city make the arrangements," he said. "There's still some work to be done in both those areas."
The new policy is "a good- faith effort by the administration" to address residents' concerns, Reynolds said.
"Half a loaf is better than none," he said.