BUCKHANNON – Did you know maintaining the sidewalk in front of a home in Buckhannon is the homeowner’s responsibility?
The good news is, the city street department is here to help.
In 2009, the City of Buckhannon and the Consolidated Public Works Board put a program in place that has since been helping residents repair their sidewalks to specifications and at a lower cost than hiring an outside contractor.
Director of Public Works Jerry Arnold said this program was put in place to help alleviate the costs of maintaining the sidewalks in front of their homes for homeowners.
“We came up with a program where the street department does all the labor,” Arnold said. “The only thing the homeowner pays for is the materials and the concrete itself. We’ve had a lot of participation in the program.”
Arnold said the program started when Ordinance 193 passed, which stated “It shall be the duty and responsibility of all owners of real estate to maintain in good repair all sidewalks abutting or adjoining their premises, including curbs.”
Arnold said people can ask a contractor to fix the sidewalk, but they are looking at a 50-70 percent price increase.
“Even if you got a contractor to do the sidewalk, it would have to be to the specifications (of the city) because everything that we do has to be ADA-compliant now, and that can be extensive for some, depending on the location,” Arnold said.
There is currently a waiting list for someone to get their sidewalks finished. Street department supervisor Brad Hawkins said the program has been popular.
“I’m currently working on two sidewalks that have been in the queue for two years,” Hawkins said. “We’ll be working on one sidewalk and then the whole neighborhood wants to get their sidewalks fixed. I love it when that happens.”
He said part of the wait time is due to other major infrastructure projects the city street department is in the midst of completing.
Anyone who wants to sign up for the program can go to city hall, 70 E. Main St., and fill out an application. After that, Hawkins will go out and give an estimate to the property owner; then, the owner can decide if they want to proceed with the program.
“The actual work itself only takes about a couple days,” Hawkins said. “Sometimes, weather plays a factor, but usually it doesn’t take very long.”
Hawkins said the cost varies, depending on sidewalk size.
“Right now, the cost of concrete is about $170 a yard,” Hawkins said. “A normal, average household or residence is usually between 50 and 60 feet long, so you’re only looking at roughly about 4 yards of concrete, and so it’s about a $500 to $1,000 investment.”
Arnold said investing in fixing the sidewalk is less expensive than making a claim through homeowners insurance.
“It is your responsibility,” Arnold said. “If someone were to trip and get hurt on that sidewalk, that can go against your homeowners insurance, not to mention just having a safe, aesthetically pleasing sidewalk in front of your house.”