German Village Society renews push for sidewalk repair

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Bill Curlis, a member of the German Village Society Board of Trustees, kneels on a sidewalk on Mohawk Street, displaying freshly repaired brick and cement. The GVS has termed 2021 as “The Year of the Sidewalk,” with a renewed effort to get property owners to get their brick sidewalks fixed or convert concrete to brick.

The German Village Society has dubbed 2021 “The Year of the Sidewalk,” with a renewed effort to encourage property owners to fix and maintain their brick sidewalks or replace concrete with brick.

“What we’re trying to do is re-engage the community in the restoration and maintenance of our iconic brick sidewalks,” said Bill Curlis, secretary of the German Village Society Board of Trustees.

Curlis is leading the effort along with Marie Logothetis, who also is a member of the GVS board. 

“The second part of that is to try to replace the concrete with brick, which would have been there originally,” Curlis said.

The GVS is offering $500 as an incentive for property owners to complete the work, Curlis said. However, no money exists in the sidewalk fund so the society is organizing a fundraiser for May.

Four sidewalk projects currently are underway, and the property owners have applied for the reimbursement money. 

The society hopes to hire a permanent historic preservation officer by June so that person can coordinate brick-replacement classes and reorganize the “sidewalk ninjas,” who would conduct step-by-step instruction at repair sites, Curlis said.

Sidewalks frequently have been scrutinized in German Village over the past several years.

There has been studies of the brick stock in the historic district, with the German Village Society leading the most recent visual inventories.

Curlis said the neighborhood is in a constant state of flux: Some sidewalks get repaired while other problems, such as bricks go missing or roots from trees in the right of way pop up bricks. While the city is responsible for the right of way, property owners are required to maintain their own sidewalks.

With roughly half of German Village’s housing stock dedicated to rentals, it’s not always easy pinning down landlords and encouraging them to invest in a costly repair, he said.

However, Curliss sees it as "enhancing the value of your property.”

Keith and Judy McDonald of Mohawk Street converted their concrete sidewalks to brick  and received financial help from the society’s sidewalk fund and Columbia Gas of Ohio, which had damaged their sidewalk in a line-replacement project.

“Obviously it would be great for the neighborhood just to keep things in good repair because, unfortunately, people can’t enjoy German Village as much as they could be because they’re always looking down on the sidewalks,” said Judy McDonald, who would not disclose the cost of the repair.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary