Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Conversation about Sidewalks

The condition of the sidewalks in Hudson and what can be done to improve them has been a topic of discussion for quite a few years now--first in the Common Council Legal Committee, now in the Council ad hoc committee dedicated to sidewalks. 

What has been worked on for close to two years now is legislation that would shift the responsibility for the maintenance and repair of sidewalks from the owner of the adjacent property to the City and impose an annual fee on all property owners--both those subject to property taxes and those exempt--to fund sidewalk repair and replacement throughout the city. At the last meeting of the ad hoc committee, which took place on Tuesday, March 16, Council president Tom DePietro declared, "We have a good document now to work with," but so far that good document has not been shared with the public.

The last iteration of the legislation available on the city website defines the annual maintenance fees this way:
The annual maintenance fee for non-developable lots and sliver lots is $0; for lowfoot-traffic lots, it is $70; and for all other lots, it is $140.
Despite the fact that when those numbers were first written into the draft document in July 2019 it was acknowledged that they were simply placeholders, they have never changed, and in recent discussions, they have sometimes been spoken of as if they were real. At Tuesday's meeting, however, Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, said that fees would be based on "street frontage and square footage," suggesting that the notion of flat fees may be inaccurate.

At Tuesday's meeting, Alderman Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward) asked, "How do we prioritize this? How do we decide where the first money will be spent?" It was decided that prioritizing and creating an annual schedule of replacement and repair would be left to the superintendent and the commissioner of Public Works. 

Halloran, whose ward includes Hudson's "suburban" neighborhoods off Harry Howard Avenue, where there are no sidewalks, commented, "I can't figure out how we would present this to the taxpayers." Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) countered, "When I go through my ward, that's all I hear. 'When are they going to fix the sidewalks?'" 

Toward the end of the meeting, DePietro asked Baker, "Where shall we go next?" Baker answered, "We need to make some policy decisions and decide what the assessments should be."  

The legislation will be subject to a permissive referendum.
COPYRIGHT 2021 CAROLE OSTERINK

14 comments:

  1. Would someone please clearly explain what is going on here and how it works.
    Is this because there is no enforcement to the existing law?

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  2. To Tiffany -- the property owners in your ward are responsible for the sidewalks
    take it up with them

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  3. "When are they going to fix the sidewalks?"

    Wow, is that ever telling!

    For the Alderman to relate, and seemingly without embarrassment, one wonders whether or not she has read the Code herself?

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  4. Well I’ve walked the many sidewalks of Hudson for 70 years.
    Ain’t fixed yet, ain’t gonna be fixed.
    Cause our code enforcer and political leaders left their balls in the school yard

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  5. Growing up in Hudson in the 50's, 60's and 70's I can recall seeing our fathers and other residents throughout the city mixing cement in a wheelbarrow to keep the sidewalk in front of their homes up to par. In the winter everyone shoveled their walk completely to the curb, if you did not you received a stern reminder from your mother or a visit from HPD !

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  6. The worst stretch of sidewalk on S Fifth is along the side of the Galvan owned undeveloped plot between Warren and the alley. So if owners of undeveloped plots are not going to contribute, who is going to pay to fix that sidewalk? Why should an owner of an undeveloped plot not be responsible for the sidewalk?

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    Replies
    1. It says "non-developable", not undeveloped.

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    2. yes !!! Abandoned and undeveloped properties are some of the worst offenders. There should be a law similar to the idea that after (12 ?)
      months of ownership, the owner will be assessed for a repair which the city makes. Galvan is certainly capable of making their own repairs. If owners do not make repairs within 30 (?) days , charge them accordingly. If they do not pay, charge them additional interest, penalties, and fees, just like they would. Individual homeowners with dangerous sidewalks can be treated differently than landlords. If this is an economic hardship, let them prove economic hardship at some reasonable standard. If a property owner can afford to create an LLC or other business to distance themselves from certain costs, they can afford to repair or repave their sidewalks.

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  7. Is there anything included for those property owners who recently did repair sidewalks? A grandfathered credit that scales down to zero over a period of time?

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    Replies
    1. Yes I totally replaced the sidewalks where I live in 2016.

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    2. What a sensible suggestion.

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    3. Competence and common sense instead of pointless kabuki and bombast. What a world it might have been.

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    4. I REALLY wish that Gossips of Rivertown had the option to “like” posts or comments. Is there any way to add that option? I guess I’m just a Facebook addict where “likes” are so important. Otherwise, keep up the good work Gossips!

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  8. This is exactly what a city government SHOULD be taking care of.

    Everyone has a duty to take care of their community, but it's inefficient to make it "every person for themselves" with respect to sidewalk maintenance.

    Having a tax on everyone so that the city can do sidewalk repairs is sensible and appropriate.

    There does not need to be any "grandfathering" in for people who've already repaired their sidewalks, but perhaps those people could receive civic recognition. "A gold star for the do-gooders." I know that's important ;]

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