Editor’s note: This letter is in response to the Neighbor’s June 19 1A article titled “Buckhead group discusses city budget, sidewalks.”
While I commend the [Atlanta] City Council on completing the 2014 budget without tax increases, I have a major problem with some of the comments attributed to [Post 2 at-large] Councilman Aaron Watson. At the meeting, Watson was purported to state the city of Atlanta has, by law, no responsibility of creating “or repairing” sidewalks within the city. To me that is one of the major, long-running problems, our beautiful city has continued through lack of concern for existing infrastructure, including sidewalks.
I must admit I personally miss the pride of involvement and community spirit expressed by past retailers, who regularly scrubbed and cleaned the sidewalks in front of their business. That does not seem to occur any more. However, the existing sidewalks are on the public right-of-way. They do not become, as I understand it not being an attorney, the legal property or responsibility of the abutting owners. On the other hand, I cannot easily document, but I periodically remember lawsuits being filed by individuals injured on our sidewalks by local citizens as well as tourists or visitors to our city.
The sidewalks in my personal opinion are definitely the responsibility of our city and they are in fact owned by our city (all of us as taxpayers). To not recognize and respond positively to their regular upkeep and maintenance is fiscally irresponsible. And, the quoted philosophy of passing the maintenance to the individual property owner adjacent to it is blatantly wrong. It costs each of us a great deal and wastes many more local tax dollars.
Also, I regularly read in your newspaper where federal transportation funding mechanisms make multimodal transportation methods, including sidewalks or pedestrian ways, a funding priority. That process potentially makes our few local tax dollars go significantly further.