50/50 in Action

50/50 in Action

After a decade of waiting, 50/50 Sidewalk Repair Program comes
through for Eigleberry resident
By Jennifer Van Gundy Special to the Dispatch

Gilroy – Doris Kallas, 90, no longer has to perform gymnastics to get into a friend’s car on rainy days.

After more than a decade of wrangling with the city to get the uprooted curb and gutter fixed in front of her Eigleberry Street home, the city has finally come out to fix the problem.

Kallas credits Al Signorotti, director of a city program that evenly splits the cost of curb and sidewalk repairs with homeowners, for finally setting the necessary improvements in motion. Kallas’ husband, John, spent years prior to his death in 2002 pressuring the city to repair the damaged curb and gutter, which causes their handicapped parking spot to flood whenever it rains.

The roots of two black walnut trees on her property are the source of the problem.

“It’s too bad it didn’t rain today,” Kallas remarked as she stood in front of her house at 7130 Eigleberry St. With her cane, she traced the dimensions of the puddle that extends several feet from her curb after every storm.

On those rainy days when a friend gives her a ride to Second Harvest, a local food bank where she works, she has a tough time getting into the car. Her friends, Kallas said, are forced to park several feet away to avoid the deepest part of the puddle, leaving her in an awkward and potentially dangerous position.

“I’d have to grab onto something, put one leg over, and fall into the seat,” explained Kallas, who has lupus and a “bum leg.”

Kallas has lived in the house for 71 years. She moved in as a bride when both the street and sidewalks were nothing but dirt. She and her husband John shared the home until he died in 2002. In his later years, when health problems limited the couple’s ability to walk around, he got serious about fixing the damaged sidewalks in front of their property. Kallas estimated that he spent $5,000 repairing a 50-foot stretch of sidewalk in front of their two adjoining properties.

He did so at his own expense, since the 50/50 Sidewalk Repair Program did not begin until after his death. Though he tamed the sidewalk problem, he insisted that the curb and gutter issue was the city’s responsibility. Kallas took up her husband’s efforts to spur the city into action, but for several years nothing happened.

When she awoke Monday, she saw a construction crew at work outside her door.

“The street is 100 percent the city’s responsibility,” Signorotti said. “I thought it was time for us to take action there.”

Signorotti predicted the city would complete repairs by Friday.

“We’re just doing what we would have done had there been funding (earlier),” he added.

Signorotti estimates that there are enough funds remaining in the 50/50 program to help 25 more homeowners this fiscal year, which ends in June 2006. More than 100 people are on a waiting list for assistance from the 50/50 program, which doles out more than $150,000 for sidewalk repair each year. The city picks up half the cost of each project which generally comes in at around $4,000. Signorotti said that residents are free to repair their own sidewalks and the city will reimburse them as soon as funding becomes available.

For her part, Kallas is grateful that she won’t have to fear the path from her own home to the street.

“God has been so good to me,” she said. “I am so very, very humbled.”

Anyone interested in signing up for the 50/50 Sidewalk Repair Program may call 846-0440.

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