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Sidewalk assistance available for homeowners

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The city will work with Columbus homeowners to share the cost of replacing crumbling sidewalks. And for the first time, the city will reimburse for a portion of curb repairs.

Reimbursements of $4 per square foot for sidewalk replacement are available — double the rate previously available in the Shared Cost Sidewalk and Curb Program. The city also is offering $25 per linear foot for approved curb projects.

Anyone who has paid for new sidewalks or curbs this year or plans to have the work done is eligible to apply for reimbursement.

Columbus resident Sean Mathews recently replaced 206 feet of his sidewalk at 1703 Newton St., which cost $5,150. He also paid $6,500 for curb repairs.

“Our sidewalks were in really bad shape. They hadn’t been attended to for about 30 years or so,” he said.

Mathews said he wouldn’t have been able to replace the sidewalk and curb without the city reimbursement program.

He had the sidewalk replaced right before the program went into effect on July 22, and the city has agreed to reimburse him at the new cost-share rates.

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 city has about $60,000 available for reimbursement, on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no limit to how much sidewalk a property owner can replace and be eligible for reimbursements, as long as the sidewalk is on one property, said Chris Schilling, city communications and program coordinator.

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, Mayor Kristen Brown said.

“We’re actually effectively doubling that, and we’re moving it a square foot,” she said. “We’re adding curbs to the program, which hasn’t been done before.”

In some cases, the program will match as much as half the cost of replacing sidewalks and curbs, depending on the scope of work and the contractor hired to do it, Brown said.

Those interested in the program should contact the city engineer’s office at City Hall. Once a resident has completed a project and has filed an application, the city will consider it for reimbursement.

The city will spend about $145,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to pay for the entire cost of sidewalk repairs and replacements in designated low- to moderate-income areas in the Lincoln-Central neighborhood.

From May to June, the city spent about $86,000 in block grant funds to replace sidewalks along California and Franklin streets, Community Development Director Carl Malysz said.

In the past five years, the city has spent about $350,000 in block grant funding on more than 18,000 linear feet of sidewalks and 42 curb ramps in the Lincoln-Central neighborhood.

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