Imagine a mother carrying a child, walking on Court Street. She trips and falls, injuring herself and the child. The sidewalk is in an obvious state of disrepair, with huge cracks and crumbling cement (you don't have to walk far to observe this condition). The property owner has failed to address the hazardous condition in front of his establishment and the city has failed in its duties of oversight. A jury, viewing the obvious dereliction by both the property owner and the city, awards a penalty of six or seven figures to the plaintiff.
Who pays? The city has insurance, as does the property owner. But rates will be raised and possibly the city becomes harder to insure. Ultimately, the taxpayer is always the loser. Our local government has let us down — not just currently, but for a long time. What has happened to our infrastructure is a disgrace that reflects on all of us. Our disgrace is in plain sight to every visitor to our town.
How to address the problem? The city needs to immediately have city crews do a survey of all business district sidewalks. Property owners need to be notified of sidewalks that do not meet safety codes and standards. Property owners should be given a timed option pay a private contractor to replace/repair the deficient sidewalk sections or have a city crew make the necessary repairs and then bill the property owner at a set rate.
The city has the codes and requirements as well as the power to enforce them. They need to do their jobs. Our city has become a bad example of municipal neglect. Further disregard can only lead to an even more draconian expense in the future.