Greencastle sidewalk ordinance takes effect this year

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
The Public Safety Committee presented its sidewalk recommendations to borough council in 2010. The committee color-coded streets on the need for sidewalks. Red = sidewalks are already present or necessary. Yellow = sidewalks will be necessary as development occurs. Blue = sidewalks are not needed for the safety of pedestrians, but are required in the next phase. Green = sidewalks are not needed now due to low foot-and vehicular traffic. Eventually all of the streets in Greencastle will have sidewalks.

Sidewalks are coming to a street near you.

The first batch of required curbs and sidewalks in the Borough of Greencastle, installed at citizen expense, are due in 2016.

Based on recommendations from the Public Safety Committee in 2010, borough council passed an ordinance the following year to make Greencastle a walkable community. That meant the pedestrian paths would be required at different times and in different areas using a color-coded schedule.

The streets in red were up first. Residents were notified last November or this March on the process to get sidewalks installed on their properties if none existed before.

The news, though highly publicized five years ago, was a shock to some.

Lester Summers spoke to borough manager Susan Armstrong a few times, and mentioned his neighbors also had questions. In an effort to share information with the folks at one time, she told Summers to bring his closest friends and neighbors to an informal meeting on March 30. Seventeen showed up.

Walters and Williamson

The streets in the red zone included Walters and Williamson avenues, and those residents were the most concerned. The affected parties on sections of Carlisle, Baltimore, Washington, Allison, Ridge, Linden, Spring Grove, Orchard, Franklin, Leitersburg, Addison and Madison did not band together to seek more information.

“This is not particular to your area,” Armstrong told the group, comprised mostly of senior citizens. “It is a big project this year.”

She explained the history of the program, and how the people should proceed. Some residents on the red streets had not yet received letters because the borough engineer was still ironing out issues with their lots, she said. While property owners on the other side of town had until Dec. 31 to put in their concrete, she wanted Walter and Williamson done by Aug. 31 so the borough could pave yet this fall.

The borough planned to do a little stormwater and sewer work on Walter, and would cover the cost of handicap ramps on eight corners.

Prior to installing sidewalks, the residents had to purchase a permit for $25, and then contact engineer Keith Moore. He would inspect the site before and after the concrete was poured. Armstrong encouraged the neighbors to get a group discount through any number of area contractors.

“The cost is going to hurt,” said one lady.

“We understand that,” Armstrong replied. “Contact me if there is a financial hardship. The borough will look on a case-by-case basis for a solution, such as a payment plan.”

She would also search for grants.

Though it was the council of five years ago that enacted the sidewalk program, the current members endorsed it, Armstrong said.

“I am tasked to see it is implemented.”

The residents on the east side of Williamson had not yet been notified of their responsibilities, but the letters would eventually get to them. Richard Myers, on the west side, knew that.

He said, “We have neighbors on the other side that are grinning right now. We’ll see how that works out.”

Matt Widder said the letter was the first he knew about the sidewalk requirement, and he was quite taken aback. Some people doubted the public would actually use the sidewalks. Others considered bringing up the matter to council.

Armstrong commended the earlier council for creating an appeals board, if anyone felt it necessary to challenge the ordinance for their particular situation. A three-member non-political panel would consider their arguments. There was a $150 filing fee.

Some residents of Greencastle have already complied with the new stipulations in the ordinance. Council had also established a five-year inspection cycle of existing sidewalks. It rotated among the four quadrants and downtown.  Since 2012, owners of deficient sidewalks had made repairs after being notified by the borough during their corresponding year. In 2016 the sidewalks in the northeast quandrant will be examined, to be fixed in 2017.

Armstrong urged anyone with questions or concerns to call her at borough hall, 597-7143.

As for those other colors — streets in blue will need sidewalks in 2019. The yellow zone includes streets with infrastructure issues, so they will be handled as development occurs. Green signifies streets without a timeline, due to low foot-and vehicular traffic.