Reynoldsburg City Council eyes contracts for streets, sidewalks

KELLEY YOUMAN
ThisWeekNEWS.com

New sidewalks could be coming to a Reynoldsburg street near you.  

City Council began discussing the initial phase of the 2021 street program Sept. 14; it could include dedicated funding for sidewalk inspections and a repair program.  

Council is expected to vote Oct. 12 on two contracts with engineering firm EMH&T: a $66,024 contract for surveying, engineering design and preparation of bid documents for 2021 street-improvement projects and a separate, $35,000 contract for similar work focused on sidewalks.  

Reynoldsburg City Hall

Reynoldsburg began exploring adding sidewalks to its annual street program in February, Mayor Joe Begeny said.  

There is currently no estimate on the number of streets or areas in Reynoldsburg with poor or missing sidewalks, but a citywide program has been discussed for several years, he said. 

The city’s 2018 comprehensive plan encourages more walkable neighborhoods.  

“It is important that the city be walkable for everyone, from a mother with a stroller to an individual with mobility issues,” Begeny said. “Having a connected and safe community for pedestrians improves the health of our residents, employees, business owners and visitors. It fosters a healthy lifestyle, while providing options for walking to and from one’s destination, which means one less vehicle on the street adding to the country’s growing congestion and pollution concerns.” 

The city expects to spend about $1.5 million on street maintenance next year. Road projects are funded through the city’s capital-improvement-projects (CIP) fund, with about $4 million spent annually on street and sewer projects.  

The 2021 program is expected to include resurfacing up to a dozen streets, with crack-sealing and preventive maintenance on up to three more, according to documents provided to council by EMH&T.  

An Aug. 13 letter from EMH&T lists Crofton Place, Taylor Road Southwest, Taylor Mills Place and Bergenia, Fallriver, Linick and Taylor Mills drives among the proposed streets for repairs in 2021. It also includes Priestley Drive between Taylor Road and the Franklin County line. 

Engineers expect to examine up to 100 parcels on those streets for sidewalk repairs, looking for deficiencies that could include “excessive lip at joints, settlement of panels, excessive running slope or cross-slope, or surface deterioration and cracking that creates an uneven surface,” according to the letter. 

Problems resulting from street trees and roots are still the property owner’s responsibility, but will be “flagged and provided to the city’s master arborist for further evaluation of the tree,” the letter states. 

Under Ohio law, municipalities may assess property owners for the cost of laying or repairing sidewalks. It is traditionally the homeowner’s responsibility to pay to maintain the sidewalks at their properties.   

After inspection by the city engineer, property owners will receive a letter with inspection results and a list of any work required.  

It would be included and bid as part of the city’s annual street program, with property owners able to use the city’s contractor to perform the work. 

They may pay the city directly or have the charge assessed on their property tax bill the following year, Begeny said. 

Property owners would have the option to opt out of the program and get the repairs done themselves, but work must be done by a contractor registered and licensed with the city and be inspected by the city.  

Reynoldsburg will rely on staff from the engineering and code-enforcement departments to evaluate other areas with disconnected or missing sidewalk segments, plotting them on a map. This would help prioritize future repairs based on use, cost and the location in the city to ensure work is done equally throughout all four wards, Begeny said. 

Going forward, sidewalk repairs will be evaluated as part of any adjacent road-construction project, public-services director Bill Dorman said. 

“Every time we do road repairs, we want to look at sidewalks, too,” Dorman said. “And if there’s a development that happens on a piece of property that doesn’t have sidewalks, part of the responsibility (of the developer) will be to install sidewalks. It’s very important so we’re not taking on the whole responsibility as a city.” 

Other cities with sidewalk programs include Grove City, Upper Arlington and Westerville.  

This summer, the city resurfaced Acadia Place, Andrea Place, Deerfield Court, Featherleaf Court, Stouder Drive, Taylor Road, Wayfaring Drive and Westlea Court, in addition to making repairs to a portion of East Main Street. Reynoldsburg also spent about $1.7 million to resurface and improve Davidson Drive and the parking lot at Huber Park, installing a new storm sewer, streetlights and sidewalks. 

“While the process will take time, we are dedicated to making Reynoldsburg a walkable city,” Begeny said. “Sidewalks and multiuse/bicycle paths will help connect all parts of Reynoldsburg, from Olde Town to our parks and more.” 

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.  

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