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Marshall increases cost-sharing for sidewalk replacements

MARSHALL — For the past eight years or so, Marshall property owners have been able to get some financial help from the city to bring their sidewalks up to date with the Americans With Disabilities Act. This week, members of the Marshall City Council approved some policy updates that will allow for a higher amount of sidewalk cost-sharing by the city – and both council members and city staff agreed they should get the word out about the program.

“I think we should probably promote this policy,” said Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes, as the council discussed the policy on Tuesday.

Marshall Public Works Director Jason Anderson said city staff were recommending updates to a city policy dating back to 2012. Under the policy, the city of Marshall can share in some of the costs for residents to replace sidewalk panels in town. The policy is meant to help create an incentive to promote ADA-compliant sidewalk improvements. In order to participate, property owners need to apply for a $50 sidewalk permit, and the sidewalk being replaced has to be parallel to a city street and serve the general public.

Under the sidewalk replacement program, the city could participate in private sidewalk replacement work at a 50/50 cost match of up to $500.

“We’ve typically budgeted, at least in recent years, at least $10,000 in the street department’s budget towards covering these costs,” Anderson said.

Now, Anderson said, “Staff is proposing to increase the (maximum) amount up to $750. It’s been eight or nine years without a change.”

In addition to increasing the maximum dollar amount the city could chip in for sidewalk replacements, Anderson said staff were recommending the city participate in sidewalk replacements at a rate of $2.50 per square foot of sidewalk being replaced. For example, if a property owner replaced 50 feet of five-foot-wide sidewalk, the city’s participation would be $625, Tuesday’s council agenda said.

“This kind of keeps us out of being put in the middle between homeowners and contractors and pricing concerns,” Anderson said.

All types of properties could participate in the sidewalk replacement cost-sharing, but participation would be capped at three properties per owner, to give more people a chance to make use of the policy, Anderson said.

Anderson estimated between five and 10 property owners a year currently apply for sidewalk cost-sharing, although some only find out about the policy after the fact. The city has rarely used up its annual budget allotment for the program, he said.

Once he policy updates were approved, Anderson said, he planned to advertise the cost-sharing program to help make sure residents know about it.

Council members voted 6-1 in favor of the sidewalk policy updates, with council member Steven Meister casting the dissenting vote.

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