Where sidewalks are concerned, it seems, nothing in Durham is as simple as one might think. And so the matter is back on the City Council’s agenda for its Thursday work session.
The matter appeared settled in September. Now, says Public Works Director Marvin Williams after consulting the city’s legal staff, to resolve a conflict of sidewalk priorities the city needs to:
• Schedule a public hearing
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• Hold the public hearing
• Adopt one resolution
• Adopt another resolution
• Solicit citizen petitions to replace petitions citizens already submitted, but with the rules changed, and
• Adopt another resolution.
All this to settle whether the city does some things it has already promised to do.
The conflict is limited funding, $2.5 million, and two sets of sidewalk-construction priorities.
• The 2006 DurhamWalks! plan, with 235 projects ranked by objective standards (such as proximity to schools and parks), and
• Eleven additional projects the city promised to building in response to residents’ petitions, three of them as long ago as 2006.
Earlier this year, Williams and city Transportation Director Mark Ahrendsen suggested using $737,814 to get the petitioned sidewalks out of the way.
Council members, though, giving preference to the DurhamWalks! list, decided to build the seven least-expensive petitioned walks – totaling just $169,000 – forget about the other four and use the rest of the money for repairs, ADA compliance and DurhamWalks!
There was one condition, though. When residents’ petitions were submitted, the assesment to each property owner adjoining the sidewalk was $5 per linear foot. When the City Council discussed the sidewalk matter in September, they decided that, if the low-cost seven sets of petitioners still want their sidewalks, they’ll have to pay $35 per linear foot – a figure the council set for new petition sidewalks in 2013.
On Thursday, council members will discuss the process involved:
First, resolve to hold a public hearing to consider whether to rescind the orders for building the 11 petitioned sidewalks. Second, hold the public hearing during a regular council meeting and vote on rescinding the orders.
If the rescinding passes, the council then needs to vote on setting a $35 assessment for the seven petitioned sidewalks they just voted not to builld. Next, City Hall needs to invite past petitioners to re-petition. Then, the council would have to vote whether to build any sidewalks for which valid re-petitions come in.
Or, as Williams’s memo states, the council could do nothing at all.
The work session starts at 1 p.m. in the second-floor Committee Room at City Hall. Proceedings are open to the public.