Clintonville council asks owners for action plan
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville City Council has asked building owners on 9th Street affected by the sidewalk issue to provide the city with an action plan to make the proper repairs.
At the council’s May 10 meeting, Clintonville City Administrator Chuck Kell informed the council that during a recent meeting with the building owners affected by the closed sidewalk on 9th Street, the owners presented a couple of proposals to the city.
One proposal was for a short-term solution to buttress the existing sidewalk so it can be temporarily opened. Kell said this would allow more time to work out a long-term repair solution.
Kell said that proposal come from a contractor. The proposal had a business card of a structural engineer attached to it, but there was no report from the structural engineer.
An attorney representing the owners also contacted the city, Kell said. Clintonville City Attorney Keith Steckbauer responded to the attorney, stating the city is willing to work with the owners, but the city needed a report from a structural engineer.
The temporary repair would cost around $3,000, Kell said.
The council was also informed about two proposals regarding long-term solutions to the issue. One of the proposals was similar to the proposal Toby Kersten, Clintonville Public Works director, presented to the council at its April meeting.
The other proposal consisted of adding angle iron into the building to hold the sidewalk up.
“Those proposals were somewhat less in cost than the proposals that Toby Kersten had received from contractors that he had look at the issue,” Kell said.
He added, “All of this is kind of hanging on an issue of an environmental situation right now based on what’s in the basement of both those buildings. We do not feel that contractors can enter the building [basement] to do anything until the environmental conditions are cleaned up.”
A proposal on how to address the environmental issues has not been brought to the city by the owners of the building.
Regarding the sidewalk issue, Kell asked the council what it wants to do.
“I know the property owners are thinking that the city was going to perhaps help with this situation because of the high cost of it,” Kell said. “I also know that that’s going to set a precedent that maybe this council doesn’t want to set.”
Kell added that something has to be done.
Kersten said he understands that the barricades are hindering the businesses.
“The way I approached it is to handle it so it’s done, not so we have to go back and monitor and spend more time, money or resources,” Kersten said. “I’d just like to see it get fixed so there’s not a void under the sidewalk.”
Council President Mike Hankins said the city is involved in the matter because of liability issues, and the best course of action needs to be determined. He suggested the Street Committee bring a recommendation to the council.
Alderman Steve Kettenhoven asked what the city’s liability is regarding the situation.
“If we do what we can to reasonably protect citizens I think we’re good,” Steckbauer said. “But if we were to issue an order and not deal with it for two years or kind of ignore it we would be buying problems.”
Alderwoman Julie Stumbris suggested the city work with the building owners because of the high cost of the repairs.
Alderman Brad Rokus asked if the city could provide the owners with long-term payback options.
The council can determine what the payback period is, Kell said. Currently for residential sidewalks, the city allows property owners a five-year payback period.
“I think you have the ability to vary that and extend the payback period for a job that would cost this much,” Kell said.
He added that the council could also determine what percentage of the cost the city would require to be paid back.
“That’s where you would get into issues down the road,” Kell said.
These issues would involve residents or other business owners wanting city help in the future for similar instances.
Rokus said based on that, it is the property owners’ responsibility to make the sidewalk repairs.
“This whole situation stinks for these owners, but I think as far as city involvement goes, it would be our responsibility and obligation to them to offer them some long-term low interest financing to help mitigate the hurt that they’re going to feel,” Rokus said.
Hankins said he wants to help the business owners, but agreed with Rokus’ idea of extending the payback period.
“But we also have to be concerned about a precedent because then there’s no reason any other person couldn’t come forward,” Hankins said. “So as much as we want to help we have to be careful that we follow procedures so that the city does not open itself up to the criticism of why aren’t we helping everybody that way.”
Steckbauer suggested the council authorize him to write letter to the building owners’ attorney asking for answers to the council’s questions.
The council unanimously approved directing Steckbauer to send a letter to the attorney of the building owners with a 14 day deadline to respond back with an action plan including a structural engineer’s report.
Alderman Mark Doornink was excused from the meeting.