Off our backs: There's an easy solution [sidewalk repair] 2011.10.05

Written by David Green.

There are few local government actions that raise the ire of citizens more than sidewalk repair. When a city or village council starts talking about sidewalks, it’s a sure bet there will be some angry talk from residents.

Considering the cost of the work, you can’t blame property owners for feeling miffed about being told to fix their sidewalk. On the other hand, they really do need to fix their sidewalk.

These days, complaints often mention intrusive government telling citizens what they must do—and in many cases, how they must spend their money.

Unfortunately for those people, choosing to live in a community also brings responsibilities. There’s a municipal sewer and water system to maintain. There are roads to fix, trees to trim, walks to shovel, lawns to mow—and sidewalks to repair.

Sidewalk maintenance isn’t a matter of making things look nice. That’s the bonus. The crux of the issue is safety. In Fayette, there were complaints about being unable to push a stroller through some parts of town. Concerns about tripping while out for a walk or run were expressed.

There’s one basic fact about sidewalk repair that critics tend lose sight of, and it has nothing to do with a push for sidewalk repair such as what’s going on now in Fayette. Whether or not council decides to focus on an area of town for sidewalk work, an ordinance lies behind it.

Most communities—Fayette and Morenci included—have a law in place governing sidewalk maintenance. It’s written for the safety of all residents.

If you want to get government off your back, and save council the trouble of demanding, there’s a simple solution: Just fix your sidewalk. It’s the law.

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