Denison will soon expand it’s matching 50-50 sidewalk grant to make business owners eligible for the program.


City Manager Jud Rex said Denison is making two changes to its sidewalk repair program, and the program has primarily been centered on residential homeowners up to this point. City staff has determined only a fraction of the money allocated towards the program is being used, leading the city to want to find another way to utilize the funds, Rex said.


“If property owners want to upgrade their sidewalk in front of their home, we have money set aside to do a match on that,” he said. “Our code states property owners are responsible for maintenance of their sidewalks. This taps city dollars to help with that.”


The other aspect of the ordinance will divide the city into four sidewalk zones. Each year, the city will determine areas within a particular zone that need maintenance work. Once all applicants for the year have been tabulated, the city will use any remaining funds to fix sidewalks in the designated maintenance zone for that year. The program goes into effect Sept. 1 which puts it into fiscal year 2021. The first zone that will be eligible for funding is zone one which runs north of Main Street and east of State Highway 91.


Assistant Director of Public Works Carrie Jones said the city currently budgets $67,000 annually to the program yet only uses $25,000 on residential applications. She said the changes to the program are intended to make it easier for applicants to utilize the funds not only by extending it to include business owners but also setting specific application times that correspond with the city’s ability to pour concrete. By ensuring applicants apply during the time closest to the city being able to actually make repairs, she said it would encourage more participation in the program as currently there can be long waits if someone applies at a time when it is not convenient for the city to be able to send workers out to make the repairs.


Jones said even if a particular zone is allocated for the excess funds for a particular year, it doesn’t limit a resident or business from applying who lives outside that zone. She said applicants can apply any time as long as it is within the applicant window, regardless of which zone is up that year. The zones are used by the city to identify needs that will receive the excess funds left over, should there be any. She also said the city can still identify needs any time throughout the year and request funding on a needs basis depending on the situation.


The two main issues the city is looking for are tripping hazards and installing disability ramps that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


What do you think of the city allowing businesses to utilize the matching funds to fix their sidewalks? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know by sending an email to rtodd@heralddemocrat.com. He can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.