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Neighbors shocked at letters ordering them to repair city sidewalks

7:51 PM, Feb 11, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA, Ga. - Homeowners in Atlanta's Ormewood Park were shocked to find letters giving them 45 days to repair the city owned sidewalks that run through their neighborhood.

J.W. Lane was floored when he opened his letter from the city's Department of Public works telling him his share of sidewalk repair would cost an estimated $1,398.

"It was, you've got 45 days to complete this or we'll do it anyway and charge you," said Lane. "It's an ultimatum really for quite a bit of money."

Last year, residents of Ormewood Parked contacted the 11Alive Waste Watchers line to complain about $140 thousand dollars worth of wheelchair friendly curbs that lead to sidewalks that are hardly friendly to anyone on a wheelchair.

Neighbor Ben Leak, who has roamed the Ormewood Park streets in his wheelchair for twelve years, spends most of his time avoiding the sidewalks.

"That is a waste in this particular instance, for there to be a nice ramp installed to a sidewalk that's not going to let anyone on a wheelchair pass through it," said Leak.

Related: Federal mandate produces costly improvements that lead to disrepair.

Atlanta's Public Works Department told 11Alive that the federal government ordered the city to install the new curbs after a resurfacing project on Delaware Avenue.

Paying to replace all of the damaged sidewalks in the area is not part of the city's plan.

Since the 1970s, city code has dictated that adjoining property owners are responsible for repairing damaged sidewalks.

"It's not uncommon in many cities across the country," Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza said of the law.

So the city mailed notices to 93 homes in Ormewood Park instructing them to repair damaged sidewalks there. The potential cost to one homeowner is over $2,300.

Despite the harsh tone of the letters, Mendoza says the city will work with neighbors on the amount of time to make repairs, and the cost.

"The cost we sent in the correspondence is only a cost estimate," said Mendoza. "There may be alternatives to full side walk replacement."

Representatives of the Public Works Department will attend this Thursday's South Atlantans for Neighborhood Development meeting at 7:30 p.m., to discuss the sidewalk issue.

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