Gilroy nets $70k grant for sidewalks

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Gilroy has gained a little cash to help cement its
sidewalk-repair plans. The city obtained a $70,000 grant from the
Association of Bay Area Governments to further fund a plan that
allows residents and the city to share the costs of sidewalk
maintenance.
Gilroy has gained a little cash to help cement its sidewalk-repair plans.

The city obtained a $70,000 grant from the Association of Bay Area Governments to further fund a plan that allows residents and the city to share the costs of sidewalk maintenance.

“We’re happy about it,” Mayor Al Pinheiro said. “We’ll be putting that toward some of the sidewalks we’ve prioritized. It’s something the city continues to fight.”

The grant is a nonmatch reimbursement, meaning the city will not have to reciprocate with any matching funds or services toward a charitable or public organization.

The money will be available July 1. The funds will go toward the city’s 80-20 plan, in which the city pays for 80 percent of a sidewalk’s repair while residents volunteer to pay for the remaining 20 percent.

Residents can participate in the 80-20 program by calling the city’s public works department, City Administrator Tom Haglund said. Which sidewalks are repaired first will be determined by their severity, he said.

LeeAnn McPhillips, the city’s human resources director/risk manager, said the $70,000 figure should be able to repair roughly 14 sidewalks.

Some city sidewalks are damaged from liquidambar trees –planted about 20 years ago – whose roots have displaced or warped segments of walkways. The trees have been the subject of debate for several years.

At a city council meeting in 2008, Councilman Bob Dillon showed a satirical powerpoint presentation called “Death to liquidambars!” detailing the damage they have caused.

“We haven’t forgotten about it,” Dillon said. “I’m very tickled to see staff obtain that grant.”

Haglund said Gilroy spent about $650,000 the previous fiscal year on sidewalk repair alone.

Some of that money came from federal stimulus dollars, Haglund said, as the city averages about $350,000 per year on sidewalk maintenance.

“Sidewalk repair is our No. 1 risk management priority,” he said.

Dillon pushed for a bond measure to help repair sidewalks in 2008, but said a bond ended up not being feasible.

“Citizens were not in the mood for it,” he said.

Residents and the city used to split the costs of sidewalk repairs 50-50, but the city adopted the 80-20 plan in 2008, Dillon said.

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