Holton residents responsible for sidewalk maintenance
Holton residents are responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks in front of their homes, and as the Holton City Commission noted this week, that includes restoring sidewalks that have been removed due to construction or demolition.
During the commission’s Monday meeting, Commissioner Tim Morris noted that after a December 2013 fire that destroyed a house in the 700 block of New York Avenue, the sidewalk in front of the house was removed while the lot was cleared. Morris asked for clarification on who would be responsible for restoring that section of sidewalk.
“On both sides of the road, on New York, going to Holton High School, we’ve got sidewalks, except for this mammoth spot where this house was,” Morris said. “It’s a concern, because we’ve got a lot of kids walking to school.”
Assistant City Manager Kerwin McKee said that in the older parts of Holton where all the blocks are “squared” and sidewalks are located along the streets, the property owner is required to take care of the sidewalk. And in situations where sections of sidewalks are removed due to construction or demolition, McKee said that according to city code, “you’re supposed to” put the sidewalk back.
That does not apply to newer residential subdivisions, where the installation of sidewalks is not a requirement, just in areas of the city where sidewalks have existed for several years, McKee said. He added that he would contact the residents of the destroyed home about restoring the sidewalk.
Uncovering sidewalks that are “overgrown” with grass is another matter entirely, commissioners noted, and McKee said that many of the city’s residential brick sidewalks have been covered by years of grass overgrowth. It was not stated by commissioners whether property owners were required to uncover those sections of sidewalk, but he added that one city resident had opted to take the opposite tack in recent years.
“It was pretty much covered anyway,” McKee said. “This guy feathered dirt over the top of his sidewalk and threw some more grass seed down, because he thought it would look better.”
Commissioner Dan Brenner also noted that when sidewalks are built, repaired or restored, certain materials are preferable to others.
“It can be brick or concrete, but not wood chips,” Brenner said.
On a related note, commissioners noted that with the impending demolition of houses on the block west of Holton’s Colorado Elementary School, the Holton school district had placed a fence around the block to accommodate the demolition. Holton Mayor Robert Dieckmann noted that the fence around the block prevented children walking to school from having access to the sidewalk on the north side of Fifth Street on that block.
As a result, McKee said he spoke with USD 336 Superintendent Dennis Stones about the sidewalk issue, and the fence on the south side of the block was moved in so that children and other pedestrians would have access to the sidewalk.