Sidewalk inventory will help city determine where to focus replacement efforts

Steve Chapman

Crumbling sidewalks concern at least one homeowner worried about liability from potential accidents
Mt. Vernon will be getting a survey of its sidewalks to help the city determine where its focus should be on sidewalk replacements.
Max Springer, city administrator, suggested the idea to the Mt. Vernon Board of Aldermen during their meeting on Tuesday, June 25. The inventory would be provided by Southwest Missouri Council of Governments (SMCOG).
“I talked to SMCOG about sidewalk inventory, and they would go around and survey every sidewalk in town and give us an idea what their condition is, what all needs to be replaced,” he said, adding the cost of the survey would be between $300 and $600.
An alderman noted the low cost of the inventory.
“They use college students to come out and do all the work,” Springer replied. “They’re interns.”
Mayor David Eden asked the board if they were interested in having the survey done; all of the board members stated they were. Eden then authorized Springer to go ahead with the survey, saying, “You can make that happen.”
During the meeting, Springer noted that the city has been replacing sidewalks every year since 2013, stating that the city depends on grants to fund the replacements.
“We’re trying to do it as we do projects and get grants,” he said.
Under municipal code, homeowners are responsible for the costs of repairing city sidewalks on their property; Springer said that view has not been popular with homeowners.
During the public comments part of the meeting, Mt. Vernon resident Marda Gramm addressed the council to ask if she was liable should anyone get hurt from tripping and falling on the sidewalk on her property, as municipal code makes her responsible for repairing the sidewalk.
“My main concern is the safety of the street,” she said, because, like during Apple Butter Makin’ Days, or the parades or anything, people with canes, walkers, strollers; they’re all forced into the street, and where I live … it’s really dangerous, and my question is, if I’m responsible to replace that sidewalk … yet it’s still city property, if someone falls and gets hurt there, am I responsible for that also?”
 City attorney Bill Petrus told her that if she repaired the sidewalk and left a lip in it that somebody tripped on, she might be liable, but she wouldn’t be responsible if someone tripped and fell on the sidewalk as it is currently.
Gramm also said she had a concern with her neighborhood being in disarray; she said some corners have overgrowth where one can’t see to turn the corner at some intersections. She also said there were other hazards, and asked if anything could be done about that.
“I don’t want to complain about my neighbors, but there’s a lot of people who just don’t upkeep their house, and we try really, really hard to upkeep our house,” she said.
Eden thanked her for her comments.
In other business, the board voted to approve city transportation policies which had been updated, specifically the Civil Rights Title VI Plan and the ADA Procedures and Complaint form.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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