Works Board says program is crucial, starting with $40,000 in improvements to be done this fall
The Port Washington Board of Public Works on Tuesday reiterated its support for reviving the city’s sidewalk improvement program, beginning with $40,000 allocated for repairs this year and next.
The board, which last year recommended spending at least $25,000 annually on sidewalk repairs, said a targeted program will offer the city the best opportunity for fixing walkways.
The city had a sidewalk improvement program from 1994 to 2006 and completed needed repairs on walkways throughout the city.
That program required residents to pay for the repairs to sidewalks abutting their property. When the program ended, the city agreed it would pay for sidewalk repairs.
Since then, sidewalk repairs have been done primarily in conjunction with street improvement projects, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.
People who live outside those areas who call to request repairs to sidewalks outside their homes are put on a list that the city addresses as it can, he said, adding the Department of Public Works will install asphalt ramps where tripping hazards are present.
“People are reporting sidewalks that are crumbling or out of alignment,” Vanden Noven said. “We’re really not keeping up.”
The problem with the current system is twofold, he said.
“Someone who called may be next to someone whose sidewalk is just as bad or worse but who hasn’t called us,” he said.
The properties aren’t clustered in one location but spread throughout the city, making it inefficient to fix them, he said.
“I realize people want to see their sidewalks repaired, but the dollars are going to go farther if you concentrate the area,’ Vanden Noven said. “To make our money go as far as it can, we really need to target our efforts.”
The funds approved for sidewalk replacement this year and next will go toward walkways in two specific areas, targeting Antoine and James drives, Monroe, Pierron, Douglas, Cleveland and Lakeview streets, Second Avenue, Summit and Tower drives, South Spring and Eva streets and Whitefish Road.
Those portions of the city were last covered by the sidewalk replacement program from 1994 to 1997, Vanden Noven noted. The greatest number of complaints have been recorded in these areas, he added.
Bids for this work are expected to be opened at the end of September, with work done this fall, he said.
“Some of the people on the list (of those who called to report problems) might be unhappy,” Vanden Noven said.
Permanent fixes for the problems they reported will be provided when their area of the city is targeted, he said.
Ald. Paul Neumyer, a member of the board, asked whether the street department crews could do spot replacements of sidewalks instead of the city having to hire a private contractor.
That’s been done in emergency situations, Street Commissioner Dave Ewig said, but isn’t practical on a day-to-day basis.
Board Chairman Craig Czarnecki asked whether residents who don’t want to wait for the city to fix their sidewalks had any alternatives.
“If I decided I don’t want to wait for the city, could I go out on my own and hire someone to do the work?” he asked.
“People are always free to do the work on their own,” Vanden Noven said.
For those people, he said, the city waives the $30 street opening permit fee.
There is one other advantage to having a dedicated sidewalk improvement program, Vanden Noven said. It also helps protect the city from lawsuits filed by people who injure themselves by tripping and falling.