BERLIN – Berlin needs more sidewalks, the Berlin Town Council concluded during a discussion of a resident’s request to split the cost of a new sidewalk at his home.
“I think we definitely need to be encouraging homeowners to put in sidewalks,” said Council Vice President Gee Williams. “I think it’s a benefit to the town.”
Williams said that it does not take a degree in engineering to see that Berlin is better off with sidewalks.
The discussion began Monday night when Paul Evans requested that the town pay half the $4,632 cost to install sidewalks along the two roadside edges of his property, a practice that the town council has followed for repairing and replacing existing sidewalks.
“This is brand new. There is no sidewalk there,” explained town council member Paula Lynch.
“On Maple Dr. it’s the only property that does not have a sidewalk,” said Linda Bambary, Berlin administrative director.
According to town attorney Dave Gaskill, the Berlin code calls for the town to pay for half of a new sidewalk if the code enforcement officer determines there is a need.
“I totally think you need to add one there. It’s a perfect place to add to,” said Lynch.
Jim Hoppa, who lives in Berlin, wondered whether the council was setting a precedent by agreeing to pay for half of the new sidewalk.
“Are we opening Pandora’s Box here?” he asked.
Hoppa said he feared developers would leave sidewalks out of their plans if the town is willing to take on the responsibility.
“Look where the mayor lives, in Henry’s Green. There’s not a sidewalk in there,” he said.
Troy Purnell, a developer who built some of the homes in Henry’s Green including the home of Mayor Thomas Cardinale, said that sidewalks were originally planned for Henry’s Green, but that homebuyers did not like their placement so close to their front doors.
The town allots a certain amount of funds for sidewalks in every budget. Once that money is used, home improvers must wait until the next budget to share sidewalk costs with the town.
Williams called the spotty sidewalk coverage in the town an embarrassment.
“It’s ridiculous in the 21st Century we’re just getting ready to put in a sidewalk on Flower St.,” Williams.
The council voted unanimously to approve the cost sharing for Evans’ sidewalk, contingent on a staff assessment.
“It’s good to go,” said Bambary later that week.