CLARKSBURG -- City leaders are hoping a new program intended to slash homeowners' costs for repairing or replacing sidewalks will encourage city residents to take advantage of the opportunity.
The city has tentative approval for $80,000 from the legislative budget digest for sidewalks. Earlier this year, Councilman Patsy Trecost suggested using that money to jump-start a replacement program in which the city would pay 100 percent of the cost.
Trecost also wanted to increase the city's sidewalk replacement fund. That fund gets about $25,000 a year from the excess levy.
Trecost's idea was met with some hesitance from other council members, and a compromise was struck in which the total cost of sidewalk replacement will be split between the city and the property owner 70/30.
Under the existing program, the city pays for the concrete, up to $750 for residential and up to $1,500 for commercial.
The new program will pay 70 percent of the total cost, up to $1,250 for residential and up to $2,500 for commercial.
City Manager Tom Vidovich said the city's new program still needs to be approved by the state before the budget digest money will be made available.
City Code Enforcement Officer Dave Cava, who handles sidewalk complaints, said the program is a good opportunity for residents who have been thinking about replacing the sidewalk in front of their property.
"They're definitely going to spend less on sidewalks than if this program wasn't put in place," he said. "I think this is a real good opportunity. A sidewalk will last 20 years if it's done right."
One of the reasons Cava is optimistic that city residents will take advantage of the new program is the level of participation in the current program.
"Last year we had a little bit (of money) left over, but the year before that we used more than we had and had to ask council for more money," he said.
Trecost said he was pleased with the compromise plan. Sidewalk replacement and improvement have been one of his top priorities since he began running for office, he said.
"I really think this will explode once word gets out," he said. "If you don't live on a corner, you just can't beat this. The whole key to this was pushing property values up and making the city cleaner.
"The sidewalk program is just a start," he said. "This is the start of an aggressive movement by council to say we care and we're ready to move forward."
Staff writer Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at email@example.com