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City proceeds with sidewalk program

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For the past several years, the city has shared the costs with residents for repairs on public sidewalks in front of their properties.

The Watertown City Council on Monday approved the next phase of the sidewalk improvement program. Property owners can pay the city for the work, hire a contractor or do the work themselves.

The program requires property owners to pay $5.25 per square foot over a 10-year period if the city completes the work. The city annually chooses high-traffic neighborhoods, or districts, where decrepit sidewalks hinder pedestrian travel.

Sometimes, property owners have complained about the cost to them to make the repairs.

About a dozen property owners attended a public hearing Monday night to find out more about the program. They did not speak at the meeting, but had several questions afterward.

Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith told the crowd that he first proposed it to help residents share the cost with the city over time.

“We wanted to be proactive,” he said, recalling that in the past the repairs were done only when a neighbor called the city code enforcement office to complain about the condition of a sidewalk.

The city has sent notices to property owners whose property is part of next year’s program.

This year’s program includes properties on California, Harewood, Michigan and Myrtle avenues, Eastern Boulevard, Knickerbocker Drive and Gotham, Haley, Ohio, State and Ward streets. The work will be done this spring and fall.

At the Jan. 22 meeting, council members are expected to authorize borrowing $200,000 for the program. City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk estimated that about 17,820 square feet of sidewalks will be completed under the program this year.

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