Our City believes in maintaining a safe environment for our citizens and visitors through a good neighbor policy of sidewalk maintenance. City Ordinance 136 deals with the construction and maintenance of all sidewalks in Hiawatha. This section of the code describes who is responsible for maintaining sidewalks, the standards for maintenance and the process for assuring the sidewalks are maintained.
A property owner is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk adjacent to their property (Sect. 136.04). This responsibility includes the maintenance of the sidewalk itself. Section 136.02 further defines the “Defective Sidewalk” issues which must be corrected.
- Vertical separations equal to three-fourths (¾) inch or more.
- Horizontal separations equal to one-half (½) inch or more.
- Holes four (4) inches in diameter and missing full depth parts of sidewalk.
- Excessive spalling and cracking
- Excessive dips and bumps in the sidewalk.
Currently the Community Development Department receives the complaints concerning unsafe sidewalks and resultant injuries. Our department verifies the complaint and sends notice to property owners regarding unsafe sidewalks requesting them to be corrected. The City then works with the owner to develop appropriate time frames for corrections, issues the necessary permits and completes the associated inspections to assure the installation of a complying sidewalk. However, if the owner fails to fix the unsafe sidewalk the City has authority to repair the sidewalk and to assess the owner for the costs associated with the correction.
The City of Hiawatha is studying a preventive maintenance program for our public sidewalks. The intent of the program is to be proactive in addressing the natural aging of our sidewalks. The program will:
- Prevent further injuries by repairing defects before accidents occur,
- Spread maintenance costs over time,
- Coordinate sidewalk projects with street projects,
The first step in assessing the program possibility is to inventory our sidewalks. We are currently dividing the City into sections for survey purposes and will begin the inventory this spring. Our municipal league insurance partner; ICAP, is assisting us in our inventory process.
Stay tuned for more information as we move forward in this effort to it keeps our city safe. As always, we encourage all property owners to maintain safe sidewalks as part of being a good neighbor in Hiawatha.