City discusses changes to sidewalk program

By Chris Swick
October 15, 2015

Possible changes to the City of McPherson Sidewalk Program were discussed Wednesday during a study session with city staff and commissioners.

Specifically, city staff is looking to implement a process through which those who wish to enroll in the sidewalk program and those who are cited for violations are dealt with.

Lead Building Inspector Bill Athey says they would like a three-tiered notification system, in which the first notice, whether self-reported or cited by the city, is an educational notification, which includes information about the sidewalk program.

“It can either be you come in voluntarily you have the violation, or there's a complaint and you have the violation,” Athey said. “Either way, the violation is noted, but actually not imposed at that point.”

The second would then be a standard violation, though violators could still enroll in the program. The third notice would eliminate the voluntary enrollment and send the issue through the city's abatement program.

Public Works Director Jeff Woodward adds that the city will work with you if you are attempting to correct whatever issue your sidewalk may have.

“At any point, if they come in and say, 'hey, we've got a contractor hired but we can't get it done in the time frame,' they'll get an extension,” Woodward said. “We're not trying to run anybody. We're just trying to get them to get the sidewalk fixed. But there has to be a process in place if they refuse to do it that we don't let this linger for three years, too.”

No action was taken on the proposal, though Mayor Tom Brown did voice his concerns that people who only have a small issue to fix with a panel or two on their sidewalk may not voluntarily come in for the program.

“I feel like, with this and some of the other things we do, people are afraid to come in because they have to do the whole enchilada,” Brown said. “They don't feel it's that bad, so they don't come in.”

Brown stated his support for including information about grinding down errant sidewalk panels with the information on the sidewalk program.