WADSWORTH, Ohio — John Pfeister has lived in his Wadsworth home for 17 years. He said he has never had a problem with his sidewalks before, but just last week received a letter from the city telling him he had a sidewalk that needed to be repaired.
“You come down at the center of town and come this way, the sidewalks are atrocious, and for me, I think our sidewalk is nearly perfect,” he said. “It’s definitely not necessary to do.”
The city estimated it would cost him about $175, but he said compared to some of his neighbors, that’s on the lower range.
“The guy on the corner he owes over $1,000. He owes $1200 or $1300 if I’m not mistaken,” he said.
Pfeister doesn’t believe it’s time for a project like this because many people are dealing with financial hardships due to the pandemic.
The city is starting the annual sidewalk repair project this year after delaying it due to the pandemic. It’s starting in Ward 2 and will work its way throughout the rest of the city in the following years.
Ward 2 Councilman Jon Yurchiak said they couldn’t delay it any longer.
“I just think it's something that we've got to move forward with. We actually had a resident that tripped and fell on the sidewalk in the area that we're replacing sidewalks,” he said. “ I want the city to move forward. I want to make sure when everything goes back to normal that we're not behind and we're playing catch up.”
City council has set aside $150,000 for the program. Sidewalk repair costs that are from private property issues fall on the resident, but if it’s due to a city tree or a city issue, the city will cover the cost. The city sent out letters to residents last week. The resident has 90 days to decide if they’d like to take care of it themselves or use a city contractor.
Robert Patrick the Public Safety Director for the city said they are understanding that not everyone can afford the repair costs at this time. He said they’re thinking of other ways to fund the program in years to come, and have a way for residents to spread the charge out over time.
“Folks have the option to go ahead and pay that invoice or if they can't pay or wish not to pay it right now, we'll send it to the county and then they will put it on the property tax bill as an assessment and they'll spread that amount out over five years,” he said.
Pfeister said he is gathering neighbors throughout Ward 2 to address their concerns to council members.
“It just is aggravating. It’s just another way for the city to get money,” he said.
But both Patrick and Yurchiak said it’s a necessary program that will, in the end, keep residents safe.
“Sidewalks go unnoticed until you notice something wrong with it. If the sidewalks were all perfect, you know, no one would say anything,” said Yurchiak. “Kids are riding tricycles and small bikes off the road and it's our responsibility to make sure that it's safe.”
The repair work should start in the fall.