Resident sees cracks in sidewalk program

Michael Phillips stands at the edge of his property on Thursday, with public sidewalk in the foreground. Phillips said the city is denying him assistance with the repairs to this sidewalk.

PAYETTE — In August, the Payette City Council voted unanimously to initiate a city sidewalk fee program, to facilitate a new sidewalk repair grant program for residents to make use of in repairing damaged sidewalks on their properties beginning in 2021. But before any of those grants are to be disbursed, one Payette resident says there are cracks in the city’s existing sidewalk repair program. 

Michael Phillips received a notice dated July 20 from City Clerk Mary Cordova, regarding his property on Ninth Street. The letter reads in part, “Due to defective and/or hazardous conditions on the public sidewalk along your property, part of the sidewalk must be replaced. We ask that you make the necessary repairs within sixty days of receipt of this letter.”

Phillips, who served on the Mayor’s budget advisory committee in prior years, said he has had difficulty doing business with city officials in the past, stating in a Sept. 27 email that he observed issues with code enforcement.

“This is not the first time that I have been at odds with the city,” wrote Phillips. “The city has numerous ordinances that they have written used to make its residence comply but the city doesn’t follow them, themselves. Such as weeds, dead trees, sidewalk maintenance and care.

The newspaper visited Phillips at his home on Oct. 8 to learn more about the sidewalks in question, which are in need of replacement. 

Phillips said he has acted on the letter, getting bids from area contractors for the repairs. However, he said he had to appeal to the city for more time to do the repairs, as he is in the middle of rehabilitating other areas of the property.

“To do all this was over a grand,” said Phillips. “I asked for the extension after I got the complaint. [Cordova] wanted it done by Aug. 31, and my concrete guy couldn’t even get started until October.”

Cordova did grant an extension to Oct. 31, but because he had a complaint from city officials, Phillips said his application for a grant through the city’s program was denied last month.

“It’s just become something that has become very stickler to me,” said Phillips.

Even if he was getting a grant, Phillips said it would only have covered one end of the sidewalk and not the other.

Phillips, by researching county records, said he discovered in September that the sidewalks aren’t even on or adjacent to his property.

“It’s fifteen feet away; I hate to say it but it’s kind of like … the city’s trying to pass it on to its residents.”

Phillips added that he was previously happy to do the work on the sidewalk along with renovations occurring at his home, but city officials didn’t want to work with him on the timetable and now won’t discuss its ownership.

“It’s the city’s property, and it’s the city’s responsibility to maintain their sidewalks … They don’t want me to go out in the streets and work to replace their streets, do they? So why do I need to replace their sidewalk?”

In an email on Oct. 8, Cordova said the letter to Phillips was issued after the City Council received a complaint about the sidewalk during its June 1 meeting, but declined to comment further about the situation.

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