For a community that prides itself on its walkability, it’s kind of surprising to learn that only 65 percent of the community’s streets have sidewalks.
Mt. Lebanon commissioners have enacted a new policy to make it easier for residents to request financial assistance from the municipality to install new sidewalks and have created a $100,000 fund for the improvements.
Now residents on Mt. Lebanon-maintained streets that don’t have sidewalks can submit a petition requesting municipal support in installing them, as long as the proposed plan connects the new sidewalk with an existing sidewalk.
Priority for the new sidewalks will be given to streets that are designated safe walking routes to schools, or would be a preferred route if the sidewalks existed. Also, in order to receive top priority, all of the affected property owners must agree to accept the new sidewalks. Once the new sidewalk is constructed, residents are solely responsible for snow and ice removal, repair and replacement.
The process will start with a petition to the chief of police, signed by 75 percent of the property owners in the affected area. The petition should state the reason for the request, define the affected area, and list a primary contact for all interaction with the municipality. Residents who sign the petition are agreeing to accept the sidewalks, share in the cost of installation, maintain the sidewalk, and bear the full cost of replacing the sidewalk when necessary. The agreement must be submitted to the manager along with an estimate of the amount of financial contribution to be made toward the sidewalk installation from non-municipal sources.
The police department then determines if the location is a safe walking route to school, or would be a preferred route if sidewalks existed, and verifies that the signatures on the petition are from affected property owners. A list of the school district’s safe walking routes can be found at www.mtlsd.org/parents/safewalkingroutes.asp.
Streets that have signatures from 100 percent of the property owners and have met the safe walking route criterion are placed on the A priority list. Streets that meet the safe walking route criterion, but have between 75 percent and 100 percent of affected residents’ signatures will be placed on the B priority list. All other streets are given a C priority.
If the request does not meet the safe walking route criterion but has at least 75 percent of the affected property owners’ signatures on the petition, the request may proceed to the next step, but will not be eligible for the A priority list. If a request does not meet either criterion, then the request is not eligible to proceed to the next steps.
Funding for the project will come from municipal and private sources. Property owners in the improved area will be assessed a portion of the cost.
After receiving the engineer’s cost estimate, the manager recommends the preferred option to the commission.
“A major priority of the commission is promoting safe travel for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles through local neighborhoods,” says Municipal Manager Steve Feller. “This new policy is intended to encourage neighborhoods to work with the municipality to improve the network of sidewalks along key streets in the community.”
A full copy of the adopted policy is available for review at www.mtlebanon.org/DocumentCenter/View/9656.