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City planning construction for safer sidewalks

Dickinson homeowners who want to improve the aesthetic appeal of their houses may get help from the city this year.

Dickinson is taking requests to participate in the annual Sidewalk Improvement District program which helps provide residents an affordable alternative to fix up their walkways.

"It's a way for people to finance improvements to their sidewalks that are in front of their home and to access the rest of their neighborhood," City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.

The program allows homeowners to finance improvements through special assessments assessed over a 10-year period to help make improvements more affordable. The specials had previously been assessed over a five-year period, but have since been extended.

In the past, homeowners who had a block or two of concrete that needed repair found it difficult to secure a contractor to do that small amount of work, so the city developed the program in an effort to help secure the contractors, City Engineer Shawn Soehren said.

Soehren said the city determined that one or two small projects might not be worthwhile for a contractor, but if there were several then they might be interested.

"We've done everything from $200 to probably $6,000 jobs," he said.

The program has grown more popular each year and about $60,000 worth of work was done last year, Soehren said.

Residents with houses in the city limits with existing sidewalks are eligible. Interested residents can contact the city to be placed on the list, which is on a first come first serve basis.

Once contacted by a homeowner the city will visit the property to estimate the project cost. Homeowners can then opt out if they desire.

Soehren said the bid period for the projects would stretch from March to May and the projects would most likely be done by July or August.

It is the property owner's responsibility to make sure they are providing a safe walkway for the public, Soehren said.