Sunday, August 5, 2007

Excelsior Sidewalk Maintenance

A topic gaining visibility in Excelsior is that of sidewalk maintenance. Specifically, the question is the age-old one of who pays for it. The Excelsior Council has been grappling with this issue for over a year, when they decided to have the bad slabs in the business district replaced. This year, it is time to focus on the residential neighborhoods, and the decision (so far) is to have the homeowners adjacent to the bad slabs pay for their replacement.

There are many points of view on this. The most extreme is that we don't need sidewalks at all, and they shouldn't be replaced. Given that many people who are buying homes in towns like Excelsior were looking for "a town with sidewalks", this would seem like a big step backward.

The next point of view, and one that makes some sense, is that the entire city should pay for the sidewalk replacement. Why? Because the sidewalks are on city property, not private property, and because the sidewalks are really there for everyone to enjoy, not just the person who lives near the sidewalk.

The third point of view is the current prevailing one, that the homeowner adjacent to the sidewalk is responsible for its upkeep, much like the policy for clearing snow in the winter. There is merit to this approach as well, because actions that the homeowner takes can affect the sidewalk (construction projects, poor snow removal techniques, poor landscaping and grading).

This topic will be addressed in a Council work session coming up soon. As for me, I just hope we get the project done. The quality of the sidewalks in Excelsior is poor, and the City was right for making sidewalk replacement a priority.

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