Toledo Sidewalk Program stirs up controversy

The program funds sidewalk repairs in the city
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 7:57 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Sidewalks are at the center of frustration for some Toledoans.

Toledo City Council passed the 2023 Sidewalk Program last week, which funds sidewalk repairs.

The measure more than doubles the program’s budget from $750,000 to $2.1 million. According to the Toledo Department of Transportation, 38,000 square feet of sidewalks were fixed last year. This year the goal is to repair 186,000 square feet.

“We’re going to be getting a lot more done than we have in the past, and we’re doing it a lot more cost-effectively,” said Toledo Department of Transportation Director Doug Stephens. “We’re no longer going to be completely complaint-driven; we’re going to areas where we know we have a significant portion of bad walk. We’re going to be doing roughly a split based upon the percentage of walk in each district.”

However, some residents aren’t happy with one stipulation.

“If the public tree damages the public sidewalk, then it is the homeowners’ responsibility to repair that,” said Toledo City Councilwoman Theresa Morris.

Yet, until now, the city had paid for the damage done by city-owned trees. According to Morris, property owners have 30 days to pay the bill in full. Otherwise, it is added to the property tax, collected over ten years.

One property owner in Toledo’s Old Orchard neighborhood says she shouldn’t have to foot the bill if it isn’t her fault.

“It seems totally unfair to me. If it’s the city’s tree, it’s the city’s tree; they should be responsible for it. Property owners have enough taking care of their own trees that don’t belong to the city,” said resident Ellen Fetterman, “I know their intentions are good but sometimes, there’s a discrepancy between intention and action.”

An amendment to remove the portion that holds residents accountable for city-owned tree damage was proposed by Morris but ultimately failed.

“I had been getting calls from constituents who were concerned that they didn’t really have a choice,” said Morris, “I just felt like I needed to put something forward for my constituents to have them have a seat at the table and to see if there is a different way to do this.”

While some may not be happy, Stephens says the program is meant to help, not hurt.

“Our real goal is to make our community walkable and safe, and at this point, we have to have a sustainable program that makes a significant amount of impact,” said Stephens.

There are options available for residents who cannot afford to pay for sidewalk repairs. You can find more information on the Toledo Department of Transportation website here.

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