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City curb program in high demand

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A Columbus program that reimburses city residents half their cost to replace sidewalks and curbs has been so successful that new applicants are going on a waiting list.

The city has exhausted the $60,000 it initially designated for the project. Residents may still participate in the program, but they will be put on a waiting list for reimbursement.

Mayor Kristen Brown said 24 residents have signed up for the program while another 13 residents are on the waiting list.

The city may reallocate about $40,000 in the engineering budget for the Shared Cost Sidewalk and Curb Program, Brown said.

“I’m hoping it can cover the needs that have come in on the waiting list,” she said. “It’s a really good incentive to make these needed repairs to the infrastructure.”

Brown said she also has doubled the allocation for the program in the 2015 city budget.

But based on the interest, she might increase the line item even more.

“I knew there was pent-up interest,” she said. “I knew the needs out there were great.”

Polly Verbanic, who lives at 1704 Franklin St., said the sidewalk in front of her property had been crumbling and popping as time went by and tree roots continued to grow.

The sidewalk would have cost around $8,000 to replace but will now cost about $3,500 after the city reimbursement, she said.

“It’s an interesting sort of partnership homeowners have with the city regarding the sidewalk,” she said. “I think everyone appreciates a good sidewalk.”

Without the program, Verbanic said she’s not sure she could afford the replacement.

Reimbursements of $4 per square foot for sidewalk replacement are available — double the rate previously available in the sidewalk and curb program.

The city also is offering $25 per linear foot for approved curb projects.

Brown said about 1,300 linear-feet of both sidewalks and curbs will be replaced with help from the city reimbursement program.

While the city is responsible for repairing city streets, alleys and curb ramps, property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing sidewalks and curbs, according to city ordinance.

The new reimbursement initiative is an improvement to an older city program called Walk Works, in which the city offered a $10 reimbursement match per linear foot of sidewalk replacements, or about $2 per square foot, Brown said.

Residents who contact the city will have their sidewalks and curbs assessed by the city engineer’s office. If they are approved for the reimbursement program, they have

60 days to reconstruct the new sidewalk and curb.

The cost of the project would be paid up-front by the property owner. Once the project is complete and has been inspected again by the engineer’s office, a reimbursement is given to the resident, Brown said.

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