An innovative program allowing the city of Grand Island and homeowners to work together to fix city sidewalks that do not comply with the federal Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was presented by John Collins, Grand Island Public Works director, to the Grand Island City Council on Tuesday.
The plan met with the approval of City Council members, but there were not enough council members to suspend the rules to amend the city code relative to streets and sidewalks.
It will be taken up March 24 during the next meeting.
On Aug. 27, 2019, the Council approved a cost-share sidewalk repair program for single-family residential properties to improve pedestrian safety and continue efforts to comply with ADA standards.
The council approved $25,000 in appropriations from the Public Works budget to initiate development of the cost-share program.
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The Sidewalk Assistance Program addresses the repair of broken and/or ADA-deficient sidewalks and construct segments of sidewalk to fill in the network along streets within Grand Island.
“Whenever we have an ADA problem, the homeowner can apply and can get up to half of what it costs to replace it back,” Collins said.
He said if the homeowner has a Homestead Exemption, they can apply and 100% of the cost is paid.
“The sidewalk gets fixed and the homeowner gets a little help to fix it,” Collins said.
He said the program is new to the city and not “very common around the country.”
The change was championed by council member Mitch Nickerson, who brought it to council. It was discussed at a City Council study session, where Collins was asked to make the necessary changes to city code make it a reality.
Collins said the change to city code will apply citywide.
“It’s usually just for one or two parts of the sidewalk,” he said. “It is pretty rare for it to be a whole sidewalk.”
Collins said homeowners can do the work themselves as long as it meets city standards after inspection. Collins said that will save the city money on administrative and construction costs.