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City to consider sidewalk code changes

  • Empty
    Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene MediaA section of sidewalk at the corner of N. Sixth and Columbia streets in Hudson.
  • Empty
    Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene MediaA section of sidewalk along Columbia Street in Hudson.
October 11, 2018 10:04 pm

HUDSON — Several laws are under consideration to create safer sidewalks throughout the city.

While there was no quorum at the Housing and Transportation Committee of the Common Council meeting on Oct. 3, the issue of creating safe, evenly paved sidewalks will be moved to the Legal Committee, 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga said.

Garriga asked fellow committee members to go to their respective wards and document the worst sidewalks for the committee to prioritize repairs at the Housing and Transportation committee’s last meeting in September.

But one other council member besides Garriga — 5th Ward Alderman Dominic Merante — was present for last week’s meeting, so a list was not created.

City sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner, according to Hudson code. The property owner is responsible for repairing sidewalks if they present safety concerns within a certain time frame or they could be cited or fined by code enforcement.

Garriga wants to hold another committee meeting before the end of the month prior to the Legal Committee meets Oct. 24. As of 2 p.m. Thursday, a meeting time was not posted on the city’s website.

Garriga reiterated her suggestion from September’s committee meeting that the city should start enforcing sidewalk repairs outside businesses on Warren Street.

Funds could be set aside for sidewalk repair in the 2019 city budget, Common Council President Thomas DePietro said at the meeting.

“The mayor has put money into the budget so that the work could be covered,” said DePietro, who was in the audience. “In other words, when you find somebody who is not up to code and they don’t respond and do it themselves, the city will do it. And then we add it to their tax bill.”

Tentatively, $60,000 has been set aside in the draft 2019 budget for sidewalk repair funds, but the budget process is not complete and that number could change, Mayor Rick Rector said Thursday.

Merante, at the committee meeting, proposed modeling sidewalk repair legislation after a similar law in Troy, which charges property owners a fee for any sidewalks repaired by the city.

“If a property owner is cited by the city to repair a sidewalk and it is not done, the city would either repair it or contract the work out and the associated cost would be put on the property owner’s taxes,” Rector said.

But before any sidewalk repair program is signed into law, city officials want to clarify the city code to specify the height and materials that can be used to ensure rebuilt sidewalks will be even with neighboring sidewalks, Rector said.

In the winter months, snow can cover uneven and broken sidewalks and make them difficult to see. This has created a sense of urgency to draft additional legislation for snow removal. Under the city code, property owners are ticketed if snow is not removed from the sidewalk in a timely manner.

Merante suggested using the Village of Catskill’s policy as a model for removing snow from sidewalks. In Catskill, if snow is not removed after a certain amount of time, the village bills the property owner for snow removal. If the bill is not paid, it is added to the property owner’s taxes, Merante said. This might prove more effective at removing snow, he said.

Merante suggested the work should be completed by a subcontractor. City Department of Public Works crews busy removing snow from city streets may not have time to remove snow from sidewalks, he said.

The Legal Committee will meet at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 24 at City Hall, 520 Warren St.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.