The program would pay for up to 50% of the cost of repairing sidewalks, which are often damaged by trees

PMG PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Morey's Landing is said to have more damaged sidewalks than some other Wilsonville neighborhoods.

Though such projects can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, homeowners are responsible for repairing their adjacent sidewalk if it doesn't meet City of Wilsonville standards.

As one might expect, when city code compliance coordinator Holt Cazel informs homeowners of this responsibility, they often are surprised and less than thrilled by the news.

"Oftentimes they're not aware of their responsibility," Cazel said. "That's pretty consistent."

Realizing this burden, the City is considering creating a grant program citizens can apply for that would help fund 50% of sidewalk improvement costs. The Wilsonville City Council heard about the program at a recent work session and provided staff direction to proceed with it.

"This would be a way to be able to reach out and help, to ensure that the infrastructure and sidewalks are good for people who are pedestrians, visitors and helps residents keep their sidewalks up to snuff, serviceable and not hazardous," Cazel said.

Sidewalk issues around town are most prevalent in older neighborhoods such as Morey's Landing because the City used to be less diligent about avoiding planting trees with roots that spread and impact infrastructure.

"Most of the reason why sidewalk cracks and lifts happen is due to tree roots," he said.

The City doesn't actively look for violations of code standards, which state that a sidewalk can't have a half-inch

gap or a quarter-inch raise, but instead responds to complaints.

Cazel gives homeowners 30 days to make the repair but often allows that timeline to be extended, especially during the rainy seasons when concrete application is more challenging.

Cazel said he has not issued any fines for sidewalk violations since he was hired about a year ago and has only informed homeowners a handful of times that they need to make the repairs.

"There's areas that could use more work, but we're not actively going out and policing them," Cazel said.

According to a staff proposal, the City would set aside $10,000 and homeowners could submit applications to receive assistance to pay for improvements. They could receive up to $1,500 for panel replacements and up to $500 for panel grounding.

Cazel said the City would try to distribute the money proportionally throughout the town and said providing education to the community about code requirements is part of the process.

"Part of the goal with this is it would hopefully encourage more proactive repair and maintenance rather than reactive, where someone tripped and fell on the sidewalk and we have to get it fixed," Cazel said.

He expects the program to begin around April. However, a timeline hasn't been established.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!