Sidewalk Repairs Come at Homeowner Expense

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STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY – Winter may have come and gone, but its wrath is sticking around, causing a headache for some homeowners in State College.

About 500 property owners in the State College Borough received letters last weekend, telling them it’s time to repair their sidewalks.

It’s a notice they get every five years or so after an inspection, but thanks to a borough ordinance, the cost comes out of the homeowners pocket, not the borough’s. That’s leaving some neighbors on edge.

The Nichol’s have three blocks on their sidewalk that need to be replaced. They’re noted with a white dot. In 2011, they had one block replaced by the Borough, which cost them $190. This year, the same block will cost them about $337 each for the Borough to replace. Plus, they have a driveway block that will cost them about $405. Add those numbers up, that means they’ll be paying nearly $1,100 out of pocket.

“I can do a lot with $1,100,” Bill Nichol said.

He and his wife have lived in their home for about 50 years. This is the third time they’ve had to replace the same block.

“All because of the maple tree. The roots don’t go down, they go up,” he said.

A pesky maple, maybe, but one Nichol won’t give up.

“It would be nice if the borough would take care of it, the borough planted the trees, but I doubt that’s going to happen,” he said.

And that’s thanks to a borough ordinance that makes these sidewalks the responsibility of the homeowner, not the borough.

“Obviously, it always raises a concern with homeowners who get a notice, particularly if they have a number of blocks,” Mark Whitfield, Director of Public Works, said.

Whitfield said the sidewalks with white dots have cracks or are too elevated, which causes a tripping hazard.

“Part of living in State College, we’re also known as a walkable community,” he said. “I think it’s important to be able to keep sidewalks safe in order to keep that status.”

We spoke with several neighbors who are upset about paying the repair costs. They didn’t want to go on camera, but Patricia Larchuk would. She’s happy to pay the price.

“I cannot walk without my walker,” she said. “I appreciate the fact that they keep track of the sidewalks so that it’s not one of those things I have to be careful about.”

Homeowners are allowed to replace the sidewalks themselves or hire a private contractor to help, which Borough officials said may save them money.

Residents have until mid-September to get the repairs done before the work is turned over to the Borough’s contractor, who has set costs for homeowners.

To read more about the borough’s rules for sidewalk maintenance, click here.

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February 07 2021 06:30 pm

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