Most Hillsdale students are aware of the hazardous condition of the Manning Street sidewalks that the City of Hillsdale and the landlords both deny responsibility for maintaining.
Many residents believe the crumbling sidewalks to be the result of the city’s negligence, but sidewalks are the responsibility of the homeowner to keep up to code, according to City Director Jake Hammel. While Manning Street is heavily populated by students, the responsibility lies in the hands of the landlords.
The city plans on implementing a program in the spring that could possibly involve repairing the Manning sidewalks, easing the burden of repair on the landlords.
As college senior and Manning Street renter Rose Schweizer said, “It’d be nice to go to class without tripping over and seeing the life flash before my eyes.”
As the result of overgrown tree roots combined with lack of upkeep, the condition of the sidewalk has been referred to as choppy and uneven by students.
“Since the roots have grown into it, it’s very mountainous,” Schweizer said. “There’s like a suggestion of a sidewalk.”
Hammel said the city previously had a sidewalk program in place for a few years that ended around 2012 due to lack of funding. The assessment program used involved the city acting as a bank, using taxes up front to fix sidewalks a block at a time. There are current plans to restart the program this spring.
The city hasn’t selected the locations for repair, but Hammel said that the focus is typically elementary school areas where there are lots of walkers and small children. Another determining factor in choosing blocks is any future major street projects.
According to Hammel, sidewalks are always included with these types of projects due to replacement of water pipes and other various alterations, so it’s economical to avoid repairing sidewalk blocks that are slated for construction.
Hammel said that the city tries to understand residents’ financial situation while keeping in mind the welfare of the town.
“The average price is $1,500 to replace a sidewalk, which is just too much for many Hillsdale residents,” Hammel said. “So we try to only regulate our authority when it’s necessary for safety.”
Hammel said that, despite the assistance program, the city of Hillsdale isn’t actually responsible to care for sidewalks. Although sidewalks are city property, it falls on the homeowner to maintain them.
“It’s like how you’re responsible to shovel your sidewalk,” Hammel said. “That’s maintaining it for yourself, even though we own it.”
Despite Hammel’s statements, there is still confusion.
“It has always been my understanding that the city is responsible for this,” Miranda Parker, a Manning Street property landlord, said in an email. “The property owner is not allowed to tear up or add to the sidewalk or cement.”
Regardless of who is responsible, some students are already excited at the prospect of improved Manning walkways.
“I’m hardly awake in the morning and then having to dodge obstacles like the sidewalk makes it that much more dangerous,” Schweizer said. “I think everyone would really appreciate an actual sidewalk on Manning.”