June 25, 2016

Mostly sunny

Medina officials debate who should fix sidewalk repairs

MEDINA — City Council’s Streets and Sidewalks Committee is wrestling with the tricky question of who should pay for sidewalk repairs: property owners or the city — or both?

The city’s ordinances now say property owners should foot the whole bill.

But committee Chairman Dennie Simpson, Ward 2, said that’s too much to ask of many property owners in today’s poor economy.

“I’m not willing to mandate property owners repair their sidewalks if they’re in disrepair,” he said. “I would feel that it’s mandating a tax on certain people.”

At-large Councilman Paul Rose said homeowners primarily should be responsible for maintaining sidewalks. But he said he would support the idea of the city paying for a portion of the cost.

Councilman Mark Kolesar, Ward 3, said he thought the city should contribute a third of the cost to repair sidewalks that are in “dire straits.”

“I have a resident here in this room who fell not too long ago because of a faulty sidewalk,” he said.

Andy Schultz, 76, said he tripped and fell twice, cutting his head, on an uneven sidewalk near his South Court Street home.

“I’m just interested in what I can do today to get my sidewalk fixed,” he said.

Councilman Brian Hilberg, Ward 1, agreed something should be done.

“I think we need to find some level ground where funds are coming from both sides,” he said. “To tax property owners 100 percent is simply not right.”

Council President John Coyne went further, saying the city should pay the full cost of sidewalk repairs.

“The city of Medina can be different from everybody else,” he said. “If we have sidewalks in great condition, property values would go up.”

City Law Director Greg Huber cautioned that if the city becomes completely responsible for sidewalks, then it could create increased liability.

“We are front and center to get sued if somebody slips and falls,” he said.

Huber suggested the city might reimburse property owners for sidewalk repairs.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.