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.
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