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Watertown to explore new sidewalk repair programs

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WATERTOWN — The city is looking into changing the way that it charges property owners to replace their sidewalks.

During a work session on Tuesday night, City Manager Kenneth A. Mix brought up the way that the city of Ithaca gets sidewalk replacements done.

Watertown has been using the same sidewalk program for years, in which targeted areas of the city are chosen for sidewalk replacements.

Currently, homeowners and the city split the cost 50-50 to repair sidewalks in front of their single-family homes.

Councilman Cliff G. Olney III said that not all homeowners can afford installing new sidewalks in front of their home. If they live at an intersection, the cost can be as much as $3,000, he said.

“I think we need to look at things differently,” Councilman Olney said.

Mr. Mix is suggesting that council members look at the way that the city of Ithaca handles sidewalks.

Ithaca uses a special assessment in which the city is divided into five districts covering all of the city, except the Cornell University campus. Property owners pay the cost of reconstructing sidewalks indirectly through their property taxes. It’s an annual charge in each district that goes toward sidewalks.

“It’s like a utility,” Mr. Mix said, adding that residents are charged for water and sewer use.

Under the current program, Watertown city residents are charged a maximum of $3,000 per property for properties that are located at intersections. Other residential and all other properties aren’t covered under the sidewalk program, only single-family homes.

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