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May 25, 2022 - 8:15am

Complaints about sidewalks and potholes are consistent as city works to make repairs

posted by Joanne Beck in news, city council, notify.

Tammy Schmidt has heard them. And so has Kathy Briggs. Resident complaints about torn up sidewalks and roads have been consistent for both City Councilwomen, they say.

“I’m getting complaints about roads in general,” Briggs said during this week’s council meeting. “Do they have some type of process (for selecting neighborhoods to repair)?”

Any citizens with concerns about potholes in the roadways can contact the city by phone, in writing or online to request a repair, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said. Work has been ongoing as weather permits, she said.

“As everyone knows, living in Western New York, we have two seasons: we have snow, and then we have construction. And right now, they're trying to get out and rehab the roads to the best of their ability,” she said. “They just finished Walnut, they just put the striping down. And they're looking to take on an extra project this year with those state touring route funds. So as soon as I have more details on that, I will bring them forward.”

Tabelski reviewed a 2021-22 sidewalk program that will mean pavement improvement for Miller, Columbia and Seneca avenues. Part of this program includes pairing sidewalks with their adjacent streets, so that an entire section is repaired at the same time, she said. It’s called the “Complete Streets” approach. These avenues are in addition to Chase and Fisher parks. The work will be funded through the city’s Consolidated Highway Improvement Program funded by New York State.

“So whenever we are able to repave or resurface a roadway, we also look at the sidewalks to make sure they are now (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. They have appropriate widths for wheelchairs and passing lanes,” Tabelski said. “And we'd like to move this project forward. And when the bids come in, we'll bring that back at a business meeting.”

Schmidt, who represents the Sixth Ward, said that she’s also been getting complaints about sidewalks and wondered how Miller and those other avenues were chosen first. She heard some strong concerns during a meeting she had with some residents, she said.

“The gentleman was so upset. The sidewalks and the streets in my neighborhood are worse than what I saw of the streets that I drove down on Seneca, Columbia and Miller,” Schmidt said. “So I guess what I'm wondering, what's the process of picking the streets? Because should we start with the worst ones first and work our way up? Or do we leave the worst ones the way they are?”

There is a capital street plan included in the budget book, Tabelski said. That plan has been followed for many years, she said, and city officials try to identify the streets that need immediate repair and pairing sidewalks with them for work.

“There is a rotation throughout the city. And if you want to sit down, we can look through that,” Tabelski said.

“So, yes, we do have a capital plan, and we do go through the streets. And they do with the Bureau of Maintenance and DPW every year and update that plan and bring more streets on. Unfortunately, we only get so much revenue for CHIPs every year, roughly $320,000. So we try to extend it as far as we possibly can between streets and sidewalks.”

There is a map (handed out during council’s last budget talks)  that illustrates where repairs have been made to streets and sidewalks in the last few years, she said.

“So you can have that to show constituents,” she said. “And it always comes up. We do have. I would say, some of the best sidewalks in Western New York. And if you've gone to other cities, I won't name them, but you can barely push a baby carriage down them. So we do try very, very hard to continue to get out there.”

City Council is expected to vote on bids at the next business meeting in June. Scope of work includes the replacement of approximately 6,400 linear feet of sidewalks and handicap accessible ramps on portions of Chase Park, Fisher Park and Seneca, Miller and Columbia avenues.

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