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First round of Schenectady sidewalk repair applications submitted

First round of Schenectady sidewalk repair applications submitted

City eyed May 1 as target date
First round of Schenectady sidewalk repair applications submitted
Bette Salisbury stands on Decamp Avenue in Schenectady. Residents on the block wants to use the city's sidewalk program.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY — Three city blocks are taking advantage of the city’s new sidewalk replacement program this year.

Representatives from Decamp Avenue, Ardsley Road and Division Street had each submitted petitions to the city clerk’s office as of Thursday afternoon. 

The signatures must be verified and lawmakers will be required to approve the applications prior to the start of construction. 

City Councilman John Polimeni expected lawmakers to take up the issue in committee on May 20. If approved, the full City Council will vote on the applications at its May 29 meeting, he said. 

Polimeni called the three submitted applications “a good start.”

“I think people want to see how it works first,” he said. “I hope everybody will be pleasantly surprised at how it works out.”

The City Council approved the replacement program in mid-March.

City Engineer Chris Wallin in March said he wanted neighborhoods to submit their petitions by May 1 so that projects could get underway and ideally be completed by fall.

The pilot program allows neighborhoods to form special assessment districts to repair sidewalks if 75 percent of homeowners on each block approve.

The city would oversee replacement of the sidewalks, fronting the cost of repairs. Homeowners would then reimburse the city.

Residents of Decamp Avenue passed the threshold by obtaining approval from 80 percent of property owners. 

“It was a lot of work,” said Schenectady United Neighborhoods President Laurie Bacheldor. “There were some challenges with the process.”

Some residents had spent the winter in Florida and it took time for lead canvasser Bette Salisbury to track down each property owner, including banks owning the title to several properties, Bacheldor said. 

“We hope we'll be among the first ones for sidewalk repair,” Bacheldor said.

The City Council included $1 million in this year’s capital budget for the program, an amount city officials estimated would cover between eight and 10 city blocks. 

The city listed early cost estimates ranging from $2,700 to $2,959 per 50 feet of sidewalk, with numbers fluctuating depending on interest rates and the payback period.

While city code requires property owners to maintain their sidewalks, many fail to have them repaired.

The program generated significant discussion among residents when it was introduced this winter, with many seeking clarity on finances, construction methods, communication channels, coordination with the city’s summertime paving schedule and potential impact to trees.

Officials have said the pilot program will likely be modified based on feedback generated from the first round of repairs.

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