Watertown considers sharing sidewalk repair costs with homeowners

wwny Watertown considers sharing sidewalk repair costs with homeowners

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The city of Watertown will likely be splitting the cost of sidewalk repairs with homeowners who are part of this year's proposed sidewalk improvement district.

The sidewalks on Watertown’s Wislow Street are getting a make over this summer. On Tuesday night, city council members informally agreed the city would split the cost of repairs 50/50 with homeowners who opt into the improvement program.

"There is a benefit to the homeowner so they have a cost involved and there is a benefit to the community at large so the city as a whole will contribute to that cost as a whole. A better, safer, more walkable community is better to have," said Mayor Jeff Smith.

The previous council was looking at charging homeowners 75 percent of the bill at an estimated $16.50 per square foot.

"Sidewalks, not only do they look nice, they are also a safety concern when you have children and families walking down the sidewalks that you want to make sure are in good condition. We looked at it as a safety issue and kind of a responsibility of the city as well," said Jesse Roshia, city council member.

With the 50/50 split, city officials say the city and homeowners would pay about $11 per square foot, which could save some owners money.

For instance, a homeowner would have to pay about $2,700 under the 75 percent split but that drops to about $1,800 under the 50/50 split. If council goes with the 50/50 split, the city will have to come up with about $35,000 that wasn’t budgeted this year.

"It's an impact. We build very tight budgets so we need to look at maybe where we have realized saving up until now or possibly look at trading something off and pushing it into next year's budget," said City Comptroller Jim Mills.

We are only talking about homeowners under the plan. Businesses would have to pay 100 percent of their cost.

Council is expected to vote formally on the cost to homeowners soon.

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