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Preliminary sidewalk assessments set
October 11, 2013 · Jake Krob


Preliminary assessments are set for those who will have the city fix their sidewalks, and those residents have the chance to sound off on the project later this month.

The city council recently approved estimated assessment costs for 26 properties. All were part of the 2013 sidewalk improvement project, in which affected residents were given notice to repair squares that were non-compliant with city regulations. Repairs weren't made on these particular properties, so the city will do the work and bill the owners. Those billed can pay right away, or be given five years to pay off the bill through an assessment on their property taxes.

Letters are being sent to the owners of the 26 affected properties telling them the preliminary costs. They also have the chance to sound off on the proposals at a public hearing set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, at City Hall.

City engineer Dan Boggs told the council that the costs are estimates at this time. He said final assessments can't be higher than the preliminary amounts set by council.

"So you're aiming high," commented council member Marty Christensen.

The estimates are based on a price of $200 per sidewalk square. The preliminary assessments also include charging each property a flat administrative, legal and engineering fee of $423.08.

Council members questioned that amount, noting that for some properties that charge is more than the actual construction cost.

For the total work, Boggs reported that legal and engineering fees were estimated at $5,000 each, and administrative costs at $1,000, for a total of $11,000.

Boggs said the council could choose to not charge those fees, but that the costs for engineering and legal work, in addition to things like sending out letters, are being incurred and can be charged to the affected properties.

Trees

The council last week also discussed how to treat trees that are impacting sidewalks.

Citizen Robert Wright spoke about an 80 to 100-year-old sugar maple that he called a "major, major tree asset" in the city. He said the tree has heaved the sidewalk six to eight feet. He met with Boggs and city administrator Mike Beimer to discuss how to treat the sidewalk near the tree.

Beimer recommended the city pick up the extra cost to make the sidewalk go around the tree.

Council members directed staff to look at how many tree/sidewalk issues there are in the current sidewalk project, and the costs to address them. Christensen said there are three solutions: remove a dying tree, grind around it so long as it doesn't damage the tree, or have the sidewalk go around the tree. He asked for specific costs related to those solutions.

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