L.I. Town Considers Billing Homeowners for Sidewalk Repairs

By Greg Cergol
|  Tuesday, Oct 5, 2010  |  Updated 8:48 PM EDT
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A Long Island community is considering a change in code that would require individual homeowners, not the town, to pay for sidewalk repairs.

A Long Island community is considering a change in code that would require individual homeowners, not the town, to pay for sidewalk repairs.

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The sidewalk in front of Stanley Rudman's Nesconset home is showing its age -- but the guy who has lived here since 1967 makes no bones about who should pay for repairs.

"I think the town should pay for it," said Rudman. "It's theirs. They own it!"

Towns on Long Island have long claimed ownership of and responsibility for repairing sidewalks and curbs; but, in Smithtown, a change may be coming.

"We have spent an inordinate amount of money repairing sidewalks and the end isn't even in sight," said Smithtown supervisor Patrick Vecchio.

Vecchio and his fellow town board members are considering a change in town code that would require individual homeowners to pay for sidewalk repairs.

The cost of repairing sidewalks and curbs has reached $16 million over the last five years, said Vecchio, and town crews can't keep pace with all the work that is needed.

And since only 40 percent of town streets have sidewalks, Vecchio suggested it might be fairer for individual homeowners and not all taxpayers to foot repair bills.

"It's their property. They should pay for it," insisted Ed Regan, whose street doesn't have a sidewalk.

Right now, it's unclear when Smithtown's town board will vote on any code change. Before they do, a public hearing would be required.

Other Long Island towns already require that homeowners pay the cost of sidewalk repair bills, explained Vecchio, and Smithtown may simply follow that lead.

The change would be about more than repair costs, however. A code change would also make homeowners, not the town, liable for legal damages if someone trips and falls on the sidewalk.

"I think anything from the house to the street should be the town's responsibility," said Nesconset homeowner Tony Scott.

But one resident with no sidewalks on her street thinks a change may be needed.

"In these tough economic times, we have to take everything under consideration," said Barbara Schaer.

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