HUDSON — The city is looking to clamp down on property owners who do not repair their sidewalks.
The topic became a point of discussion at Thursday’s Housing and Transportation Committee of the Common Council’s meeting, initiated by chair and 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga.
Garriga recently joined several city residents who use wheelchairs, including Jacquie Peters, in documenting via video the dangers in using city sidewalks.
“I experienced what the citizens are dealing with on a daily basis,” Garriga said.
Garriga has been using a wheelchair since May after she injured her foot.
“Some of the sidewalks are so bad, we had to go in the street, which is also dangerous because you have to watch out for cars,” she said. “So, this is something that has been a huge concern for the people in the city for many years. It’s about time we do something about it.”
Mayor Rick Rector agreed.
“I think it is a great conversation to start having, whether we get a grant for sidewalks or whether the city can start helping people via taxes,” he said.
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.
The city is responsible for maintaining corner curb cuts and crosswalks.
“The owner or occupant of any premises adjoining any street where a sidewalk has been laid shall keep the sidewalk on such street in good repair,” according to the city code.
Residents who do not maintain their sidewalks could face an unspecified fine, not to exceed $2,500, according to the city code.
“From my conversation with code enforcement, we need to be more aggressive about this,” Rector said. “And because if it was up to him [code enforcement officer Craig Haigh], he would go out and start giving people tickets for improper sidewalks. But there has always been a hesitation within Hudson to do that.”
The city has received reports about a number of accidents of people falling on damaged sidewalks, Rector said. The mayor did not specify how many accidents have been reported.
“Craig does get incidents of people falling,” Rector said. “There is one building where we can’t even find the owner where we track down through the lawyers or the state, so it is not always easy, but you are absolutely right — start with the businesses that should be fixing the sidewalk.”
Garriga suggested the city start issuing citations to business property owners.
Committee member and 5th Ward Alderman Dominic Merante had a conversation with Troy officials about their requirements for sidewalk repairs, he said.
“So what Troy does is they cite the owner and they give them a time frame to fix it [the sidewalks],” Merante said. “And if they don’t fix within that time frame, then they fine them. My thought was to take it a step further. If that property owner is insured, a letter or citation should go to the insurance company.”
The city could also repair neglected sidewalks and charge the property owner through property taxes, Merante said, depending on manpower and the severity of the sidewalk’s condition.
Garriga suggested committee members speak to residents in their respective wards and identify the most damaged sidewalks that need immediate repair before the Oct. 3 meeting.