The DeWitt City Council July 6 approved a sidewalk-repair program it has been discussing for more than a month.
The city contracted with Precision Concrete to inspect all sidewalks in the city’s northeast quadrant east of Sixth Avenue and north of Eighth Street. Precision marks the sections of sidewalks that do not adhere to the city’s ordinances, which follow federal regulations including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law, among other restrictions, says differentials in sidewalk height cannot be more than 1/8-inch.
The council’s approval sets in motion the next phase of the program, which includes contacting affected property owners by mail. The mailing will explain the needed repairs and their projected cost.
• If the cost is less than $500, the city will ask property owners to pay by June 30, 2022.
• If the cost is more than $500, the property owner will have up to four years to pay in full, Lindner said.
The city will pay those fees with Precision, or another contractor, and be reimbursed by property owners.
Precision found 919 hazards, said DeWitt city administrator Steve Lindner, including 758 residential sidewalks that need laser repair and 44 sections that need replacing. The estimated cost for the residential laser repairs is $51,855.00. The city will be on the hook for an estimated $13,926 in repair costs.
The city is “highly, highly recommending” that property owners have Precision do the work because it will likely be the most cost effective as the firm is doing a high volume of repairs, Lindner said. It also is guaranteed to meet ADA compliance. If the work is done by someone else and does not meet ADA standards, the property owner will be responsible for bringing the sidewalk into compliance, in effect having to pay twice for repairs.
The approval of the repair initiative brought another sidewalk-related question at the July 6 council meeting: What if a property doesn’t have a sidewalk at all?
“If it’s there you have to be compliant, if it’s not there you don’t have to be,” DeWitt Public Works Director Matt Proctor said.
Not having a sidewalk can be just as bad as having one in disrepair, said DeWitt council member Garey Chrones.
“As a city we are telling residents they need to fix their sidewalks,” Chrones said. “I feel we should be the ones to take the lead on that.”
One block Chrones said was a glaring omission is the north side of Lincoln Park along 11th Street. That stretch, he said, should have a sidewalk.
“When there is an event in the park, it is not convenient for someone if they are in a wheelchair to get through the park,” Chrones said. “If I am running, it is not convenient for me to go through, say, Tunes in Town.”
The council voiced agreement, and Linder said when the 2022-23 budget talks begins at the turn of the year, a new sidewalk there would be on the docket.
Other areas without sidewalks discussed included the blocks around the Clinton County Fairgrounds and along 11th Street near the bowling alley.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a lien release on 222 Ninth Ave. The city placed a sidewalk lien on the property when a sidewalk was installed as part of a reconstruction project on Third Street. The property owner paid the city back in full for the repairs — a total of $997.20.
• Approved a mortgage subordination for a home owned by Japatra Cason, who took part in the city’s low-to-moderate income home rehabilitation in 2017.
• Approved workforce housing tax credit matches for two upcoming proposed developments. One was for a housing development proposed by developer North Arrow that could be built along an extension of 14th Avenue. The second is for the Iowa Mutual Lofts, a proposed project that will turn the former Iowa Mutual office building into dozens of market-rate apartments of varying sizes.
The pledge by the city does not increase the city’s financial commitment to the projects; the council has already approved the use of tax-increment financing rebates to help spur the project.
• Approved the purchase of a new police vehicle for the DeWitt Police Department. The vehicle, a 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe costing $38,363, will replace the department’s Ford Explorer, which will be traded in for $600. The new vehicle will then be shipped to another company to be fitted for police duty, an effort that will cost an additional $15,900, Lindner said.
• Approved the purchase of a trailer for the DeWitt Parks & Recreation Department. The trailer will be used to haul mowers. It cost $3,479.