Committee asks who will pay
By Bert Lehman
A wall along the sidewalk by Pizza Hut in the city of Clintonville needs to be repaired, but the question is who is responsible to pay for the repairs.
Clintonville Public Works Director Kray Brown told the Clintonville Streets Committee at its Dec. 5 meeting that the wall dates back to the mid-1990s when the sidewalk in that area was created.
“They did a very good job [building the wall], but unfortunately over the years, and especially this year with all the water and stuff that we have gotten, the wall is starting to push,” Brown told the committee.
He added that the Public Works Department has cleaned wall debris off the sidewalk on several occasions.
“From my understanding, it’s our responsibility to take care of this stretch,” he said.
Brown told the committee that a representative from Pizza Hut told him since the city installed the wall it is the city’s responsibility to maintain it.
It is important for the wall to be maintained because Brown said it is pushing into the sidewalk it abuts.
“I’m looking for some direction in regards to this,” Brown said.
Brown said he estimates it will cost around $1,000 to install a wall that will stay in place.
Committee member Steve Kettenhoven asked if Pizza Hut owned the property that the wall is on.
Brown said the wall is within the right of way, making maintenance the responsibility of the city.
Clintonville City Administrator Sharon Eveland agreed that if the wall is in the right of way, then it is the city’s responsibility.
Committee Chairman Jim Supanich questioned the city’s responsibility as the city has a sidewalk ordinance in which property owners are responsible for maintaining sidewalks by their properties.
“I’m not really sure how this would differ from that, that much,” Supanich said.
Supanich also worried about a precedent that would be set. He asked if the city would be responsible for maintaining all similar walls within the city.
“My feeling is we don’t,” Supanich said.
Brown said most similar walls in the city like the one at Pizza Hut is on private property.
Kettenhoven said he considered it a landscaping issue, which when maintained, benefits the property owner.
Ultimately the committee directed Brown to fix the wall.
The city of Clintonville continues to move toward not maintaining or snow plowing on private property.
The committee discussed snow plowing and removal from the area behind B&H Footwear down past the former Beggs furniture store. Brown told the committee that Lenz Street is the only city-owned property in that area.
“It was requested by one of the business owners to potentially just make a [snowplow] swipe down through to help the businesses back there,” Brown said. “In the past here, that has happened.”
He added that the past several years, the city has also hauled snow out of that area.
Brown recommended that city stop that practice.
“We have enough on our plate as it is,” Brown said.
“This goes back to what I’ve been saying pretty much since we started talking about this, is that we as a city need to stop operating under these types of agreements and need to put things in place that formalizes it,” Eveland said. “I agree with Kray, as I don’t see a benefit to the city to do anything on this property.”
She added that the city shouldn’t be incurring the expense of hauling snow off private property.
Supanich said he was concerned how this would be viewed since the city is trying to promote businesses in that area of the city.
“This is going to be looked at again by the businesses as another service that has been taken away, rightfully or wrongly,” Supanich said.
Committee member Tammy Strey-Hirt asked if it would be possible for the city to continue to plow and remove snow from the private property, but have the property owners pay the city for that service.
Eveland said that was possible, but she didn’t want the city to take business away from private contractors who provide that service in the city. Because of that, Eveland didn’t recommend that option.
The committee approved directing the city’s Public Works Department to not plow and remove snow from private property along Lenz Street between Ninth Street and 10th Street.