Friday, September 21, 2018

Be Careful What You Wish For

The state of the sidewalks in Hudson is a perennial cause for hand wringing and complaint. Often cited as the explanation for the sorry state of the sidewalks on streets other than Warren Street is that individual property owners are responsible for the care and keeping of their sidewalks, and for many property owners, the cost of replacing sidewalks, estimated recently at $35 per linear foot, is prohibitive. In the past, the possibility of the City replacing sidewalks and adding the cost to individual owner's property taxes has been discussed, but so far no plan has been pursued. 
At the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meeting on Wednesday, DPW superintendent Rob Perry showed the committee these four pictures of sidewalks in Hudson and asked what they had in common.


The answer is that all these handsome sidewalks are out of compliance with the city code. Adherence to the code (Chapter A330: Curb, Sidewalk, and Street Requirements, adopted in 1970) results in not especially attractive new cement sidewalks that sit a few inches higher than existing sidewalks--a phenomenon that can be seen all over town, contributing to the challenge of walking in our walkable city.

The expectation that new sidewalks would be higher than the existing sidewalks was offered as the reason for eliminating the cellar windows when General Worth's birthplace at 211 Union Street was being restored in 2011.

Ventilation is critical to moisture control in historic buildings, and there is evidence that sealing up cellar windows exacerbates moisture problems. Because the cellar windows appeared on the rendering of the building that was approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, the HPC was able to compel the owner of 211 Union Street to restore the window openings.

Perry made the suggestion that the Council might want to amend the code to change the requirements for sidewalks before any wholesale project to upgrade the sidewalks in the city was undertaken. Alderman Rich Volo (Fourth Ward), who is also a member of the Legal Committee, noted it was an issue that might be taken up by that committee.

1 comment:

  1. To my knowledge, the city sidewalk spec only allows for concrete. Some of the photos offered are very attractive, not concrete and in tune with the historic nature Hudson strives for. Further, most of the bad sidewalks are concrete, what does that tell you? ... even Warren Street is getting pretty messy with all the lame patches and trees heaving sidewalks. Too many examples of poor concrete work by the unskilled is a problem too.