OSWEGO — Port City sidewalks could soon receive a facelift, with officials considering $80,000 in funding to repair damaged walkways throughout the city.
For the second straight year, Mayor Billy Barlow plans to ask the Oswego Common Council for an additional $80,000 to repair and replace residential sidewalks in city neighborhoods this summer. The city Administrative Services Committee is set to consider Barlow’s request at its next meeting July 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the common council chambers.
Barlow called improving the city’s infrastructure “a top priority for city government,” noting that includes repairing and replacing sidewalks for residential property owners. He said improving infrastructure in residential neighborhoods is a key element in the city’s efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and improve the community.
“Our sidewalks, due to years of neglect by the city, are in poor condition but I believe we are slowly catching up and making progress,” the mayor said. “Investing funds in our sidewalks is a direct investment in our neighborhoods, improving the aesthetics, eliminates safety and tripping concerns, assists walkability and prevents an additional financial burden from being placed on our residents.”
Council President Rob Corradino, R-7th Ward, expressed support for the additional funding, saying fixing and maintaining city sidewalks is “one of the most important issues” that city officials must address.
“With our current backlog of sidewalks waiting to be repaired, this request will go a long way toward getting the work completed for our residents, and I fully support allocating this funding,” Corradino said.
In the past, sidewalk repairs were funded through any leftover funding from the state Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, known as CHIPS, which is first used to pave roadways. In recent years, however, the city has utilized all of the CHIPS funding and other state funds, which totaled about $634,000 this year, in an effort to pave more roadway.
Prior to 2016, Barlow said the city did not repair sidewalks and left it to homeowners to decide whether or not to make the improvement. The city reversed that decision when Barlow took office and spent roughly $20,000 to $25,000 annually on sidewalk repairs, but increased the amount to $80,000 the last two years.
Barlow said allocating additional funds to replace and repair sidewalks continues the Port City’s investment in neighborhoods without financially burdening homeowners with the responsibility of repairing sidewalks in front of their homes.
“It is the right thing for the city to assume responsibility, fund and expedite repairs and certainly helps spur additional neighborhood confidence and growth,” the mayor said.
However, the backlog created during the years the city quit repairing sidewalks is significant, the mayor said, adding $20,000 in annual funding wasn’t sufficient.
“That’s why last year and this year I’ve asked for $80,000 to be able to do more replacements while also maximizing our CHIPS funding on road pavement,” Barlow said.
Homeowners who would like the sidewalks in front of their home repaired or replaced should ask their common councilor to generate a work order request. Officials said sidewalk repairs and replacements are prioritized based on the volume of pedestrian traffic in the area and safety.
Repairs and replacements are scheduled for late summer and early fall by the city Department of Public Works.