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St. Clair Shores

October 2, 2013

Shores to refund sidewalk money on Talbot Street

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

ST. CLAIR SHORES — As the saga of construction woes in the city’s north end continues, City Council decided to ease the pain of some residents by refunding money they paid to replace sidewalks, which ended up being ripped out again by the water main work.

Community Development and Inspection Director Chris Rayes said the situation on Talbot Street was unique because the water main previously criss-crossed the road, but in replacing it, the city decided to just move it all to one side of the road. But while residents on the north side of the street were instructed to stay out of the sidewalk replacement program in 2012 because of the impending project, residents on the south side participated and paid to replace the sidewalk slabs that needed repair.

Unfortunately, water main work was then moved to the south side of the road, necessitating the demolition of the new sidewalk squares.

During such a water main project, Mayor Kip Walby said the city normally pays for sidewalk repair. Because of that, he wanted to return the $3,726.41 that residents on the south side of the street paid to have their sidewalks replaced — only to have them ripped back up again by the city.

Council members agreed with the idea, and Councilman Chris Vitale made a motion to refund the money Sept. 16, with the caveat that the city establish policies “so that this doesn’t become a slippery slope.”

Walby agreed, although he said he didn’t think the situation would arise very often in the future.

“Engineering has to do a better job making sure we’re understanding exactly where we’re going with this,” he said.

Councilman Ron Frederick called the situation “an interesting dilemma.”

“From my perspective, the people on Talbot, Detour, Port, Fresard have gone through the worst of times. We need to do something for these folks,” he said. “We’re talking not very much per household. We feel for the summer that you guys went through … (and) as a city, we’re not turning a blind eye to that.”

City Manager Phillip Ludos said it was the city’s responsibility to have planned the project better. He said he plans to develop guidelines so this doesn’t happen again.

“The biggest thing that we have going against us is when we have to come back at a meeting like this and decide how we’re going to fund things,” he said.

City Attorney Robert Ihrie assured City Council this would not set a precedent. The measure passed unanimously, with the money to be paid out of the utility fund.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.