New Britain Offers Assistance To Property Owners To Repair Sidewalks
November 14, 2019
By Chris Gilson, CCM Communications Writer
In towns and cities where property owners are responsible for maintaining sidewalks, you run the risk of errant property owners who either don’t know their responsibility or don’t want to pay for the replacement or repair. It may not be feasible for many municipalities to take on the entire cost of replacing sidewalks where there is a risk, but how do you get citizen involvement? If you’re the City of New Britain, you offer to help.
This past year, the City of New Britain began a new cost sharing sidewalk repair program for property owners. Like many other municipalities, there is a city ordinance that makes property owners responsible for the maintenance and repair of the sidewalk bordering their property. But under this program, they have taken some of that burden off the property owners.
New Britain residents who meet limitations and requirements can recoup up to 50 percent of the costs of sidewalk replacement for single family residential properties, 40 percent for two family properties, and 33 percent for three to six family properties.
“We recognize that repairing a sidewalk can be costly and in some cases simply unfeasible to budget for,” Mayor Erin Stewart said in a press release. “We hope that this program will be beneficial to property owners; these improvements will make for a safer, better connected community.”
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Having safe sidewalks is especially important for a city like New Britain, who has actively been looking at making their downtown area more walkable. As part of the Complete Streets Master Plan, not only were bike lanes and safer parking important, but making the city more accessible for everyone regardless of ability is seen as key to New Britain’s future.
These types of programs are becoming popular around the country, especially in areas where the city cannot keep up with nearly every foot of sidewalk. New Britain alone has 200 miles of sidewalks along its city streets, but this program has seen success in larger metro areas like Chicago, which offers a per-square-foot fee that is lower than private contractors, but is limited to sidewalks in public right-of-ways.
In New Britain, the rules are that the property owner must enter an agreement with the City to be eligible for this program and sidewalk repair reimbursement funds, and $6,000 is the maximum value that a single property owner can be reimbursed. In 2019, the city has allocated $50,000 for the program.
It’s hard to imagine a city without sidewalks. CT&C has written about the positive effects that they afford all kinds of travelers. In municipalities that share the responsibility with their property owners, it is of utmost importance that those travel ways are safe for everyone. While the costs may be burdensome for either party alone, sharing in those costs makes for a smart plan.