Sidewalk problems generate ‘friendly’ letters


By Jason Hawk - jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com



Mayor Mark Costilow works July 27 in his office at Amherst city hall.


Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

A letter may soon hit your mailbox, saying your sidewalk is in bad shape.

What started as a survey of the worst walkways in the city expanded this spring to all of Amherst.

City council had been poised to notify 283 property owners they’d have to make repairs. Now that number has climbed to 700.

Mayor Mark Costilow said cracks and upheaved sections are the most common problems inspectors found.

“You might have a perfectly good panel, but it’s heaved and causes a tripping hazard,” he said.

“They’ve been ignored for so many years. They really are a hazard. Elderly people might be more at risk of falling than a teenager, of course, but it’s a problem for everyone.”

“Friendly” notices will go out in batches over the next few weeks, urging home and business owners to take care of sidewalks.

A more aggressive round is planned for Spring 2018. They’ll say that if sidewalks aren’t fixed, the city will make repairs and bill property owners.

The city’s third ward at the heart of town is where Amherst’s oldest neighborhoods lie. It’s where sidewalks are in the worst condition, Costilow said.

Some newer neighborhoods, built in the 1980s and 1990s, don’t have sidewalks at all.

The mayor said that had officials enforced repairs over the past several decades, Amherst’s sidewalks would be in much better shape. As it stands, “they do look pretty bad — they’re not pleasing to look at.”

He wants to hire a part-time employee or intern to handle sidewalk-related issues, including responding to and coordinating with people concerned about making repairs. Costilow said that as letters go out, they are sure to generate a flood of calls to his office.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Mayor Mark Costilow works July 27 in his office at Amherst city hall.
http://theamherstnewstimes.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/07/web1_20170727_120140.jpgMayor Mark Costilow works July 27 in his office at Amherst city hall.

Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com