PAWTUCKET – Data provided by city staff shows that few people take part in the local 50/50 sidewalk program, with declining numbers since 2019.
The program since the 1990s has required residents to submit an application if they want to see sidewalks in front of their homes replaced, and then pay half of the cost themselves. The highest average cost per project was in 2021, exceeding $6,000 apiece, according to information provided this week.
The cost to the homeowner of a sidewalk installation without curbing on 50 feet of sidewalk is $1,800 on a total bill of $3,600.
The cost to the homeowner of a sidewalk installation including curbing on the same length of sidewalk is $3,800, or half of the $7,600 total bill.
• In 2019, there were 30 total applicants allowed to move forward, with a total cost of $160,802, and $80,401 covered by the homeowners. That was an average cost per project of $5,360, according to numbers from the city.
• In 2020, there were 25 applications accepted, with a total cost of $128,404, and $64,202 covered by the homeowners. That was an average cost per project of $5,136.
• In 2021, there were 25 total applicants with approved projects, with a total cost of $160,418, and $80,209 covered by the homeowners. That was an average cost per project of $6,418.
• In 2022, there were 18 total applicants, with a total cost of $70,238, and $35,119 of that covered by the homeowners. That was an average cost per project of $3,902.
Most applicants want their entire sidewalk replaced, said Grace Voll, spokesperson for Mayor Donald’s Grebien’s administration.
“The city will only get involved if something affects the city or a related agency, such as a utility company,” she said. “For example, if there is a tree lifting, something that could disturb plowing, and exposed power lines, and sewer, the city would get involved.”
A recent story by WPRI focused on a resident’s complaint about the city’s longstanding 50/50 sidewalk program, with the resident saying taxpayers should not be held responsible for a city function and Grebien emphasizing that Pawtucket, like many communities, maintains the program because taxpayers could never afford to foot the bill for all new sidewalks. The city covers the bill in emergency situations, he said.
Grebien says the city receives about 40 to 50 applications through the sidewalk program each year. Those that don’t get done are placed on a waiting list, and the list rolls over to the following year.
Those applying for the program must pay a $75 fee to do so and submit it between March 1 and June 1.
Pawtucket has a far more comprehensive existing sidewalk system than many nearby communities. In Cumberland, where much of the town has no sidewalks, leaders are now analyzing the results of a study recommending that the town implement a utility-like assessment program where residents shoulder a share of the burden for the new sidewalks. There are many benefits to sidewalks being discussed in that community, including increasing safety for students to be able to walk to school and improving access to commercial districts.
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