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Woodburn's looks to make good on its sidewalk repair reimbursement program goal

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn 50/50 sidewalk repair program would afford the city a means of sharing sidewalk repair costs with property owners, who by ordinance are responsible for the repairs.In keeping with its city council goal, the city of Woodburn is shoring up a program that will split the cost to repair property owner's damaged sidewalks.

A draft order of the city's 50/50 sidewalk repair program was presented to the Woodburn City Council during its Monday, Sept. 27, for consideration. It will likely come back before the council soon for approval.

"It's been brought to city council's attention on numerous occasions, and to (city) staff, that our sidewalks need some work on them, and it does present a substantial cost to our citizens and our residents when those repairs need to be done," Woodburn Economic Development Director Jamie Johnk said. "According to a city ordinance…the liability for sidewalk repairs is on the property owners."

Johnk said in this past budget year the city budget committee approved $75k general fund money and $75k in the urban renewal district budget for this program. The city is examining where the repairs need to be made and what kind of funding is available to help achieve them.

Woodburn reached out to other cities on the topic; discovering Newberg, Oregon City, Wilsonville, West Linn, Silverton and a few others have similar programs.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn 50/50 sidewalk repair program would afford the city a means of sharing sidewalk repair costs with property owners, who by ordinance are responsible for the repairs.

Any Woodburn property owner would be eligible for the program. There is an application process that includes providing three competitive bids. City staff will examine the applications and work with owner on seeing the project through, which needs to be done within 90 days.

Johnk said some cities limit their sidewalk repair programs only to sidewalks damaged by tree roots. Woodburn's proposal does not.

"It was our consensus that including all aspects of sidewalk repair would be considered applicable in this application process," Johnk said. "We also determined that, taking in consideration that sometimes sidewalk repairs can cost upwards of $5,000 or more to repair, we increased the amount that most communities provide reimbursement for to $2,500 per application."

The residents can submit one application per year, and reimbursements are determined by the severity of the damages, to ascertain the cost required for the repair. Funds are available on first-come, first-served basis.

City Administrator Scott Derickson, worked with Johnk and the city's economic development department on the draft. He felt that Woodburn has outlined its program with residents and property owners in mind.

"I think that it's a pretty generous program," Derickson said. "We looked around at other programs in the state, (and found) a 50-50 to repair for property owners is a pretty good deal.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn 50/50 sidewalk repair program would afford the city a means of sharing sidewalk repair costs with property owners, who by ordinance are responsible for the repairs.

"We'd like to see it applied not only to the urban renewal area downtown, but also to residential neighborhoods across the city," he added. "This will be applied citywide."

Derickson also said the program design could be adjusted to provide incentives to a neighborhood collective. This would be particularly useful if they wanted to combine applications to tend to a specific area that has multiple sidewalk issues.

Councilor Mary Beth Cornwell said she and many of her downtown neighbors would be delighted to see this program become available.

"I know many of my neighbors downtown have been anticipating and hoping for this – including me," Cornwell said.


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