Enhancing Accessibility Improves Health and Safety, Economy, and Quality of Life

This fact sheet provides an overview of a proposed Municipal Sidewalk Program in the City of Syracuse.  It was presented to the Syracuse Common Council Public Works Committee on Tuesday, Mar. 23.

Overview

Enhancing accessibility is a benefit to residents, property owners and businesses throughout the City and will help improve health and safety, the local economy, and quality of life. Mayor Ben Walsh and the members of the Syracuse Common Council have identified implementation of a municipal sidewalk program as a top priority for the City of Syracuse. 

Based on prior consultation with the Common Council and public input, the Walsh Administration is proposing to move forward with a municipal sidewalk maintenance program in the upcoming fiscal year 2021-2022. In the first year of the program, there will be no cost to property owners with fees introduced on a phased-in basis over the following five years.

Current Sidewalk Policy

  • Property owners are responsible for maintenance and replacement of sidewalks, including removal of snow and ice
  • Sidewalks are condemned if identified as unsafe; citations are primarily complaint-driven
  • Property owners are required to pay for construction of new sidewalk and can choose a city financing program

Challenges

  • Sidewalk conditions reduce accessibility
  • Complaint-driven process
  • Unexpected significant repair costs to property owners

Proposed Municipal Sidewalk Program

  • The City will assume responsibility in fiscal year 2021-2022, beginning in the second half of 2021, for repair and replacement of existing sidewalks.
  • The program will also:
    • include annual expansion of existing sidewalk network by installing new sidewalks
    • incorporate, make permanent and expand upon the Supplemental  Sidewalk Snow Removal Pilot Program
  • The program will establish four districts within the City in line with the current Department of Public Works quadrant boundaries.  The funding collected within each district will be expended in that same district, which will include at least 3% of the funding dedicated to newly constructed sidewalks in each district.
  • DPW will work with Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council to prioritize: safety of pedestrians; access to schools, grocery stores and other neighborhood destinations; and coordination with other infrastructure projects.

Program Financing

  • In year one of the program, financing will be bonded for or, if applicable, funded through Federal Aid.
  • The fee to be charged to City property owners will be implemented in year two of the program and shall be $20 for residential properties and $60 for commercial properties.
    • The residential or commercial property status shall be as determined by the City of Syracuse Department of Assessment. 
    • Each year thereafter the fees will increase by $20 and $60, respectively, until year six when the annual fees will reach the set annual rate of $100 for residential properties and $300 for commercial properties.
  • All properties will be subject to fee, including those exempt from property taxes.
  • There will be a fee exemption for property owners who completed permitted sidewalk work within ten years from permit issuance.
  • The annual cost and fees for the program are estimated at $4.5 million.

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