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Not fixing Canonsburg sidewalks could mean fine, jail

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:03 p.m.
A section of sidewalk is in disrepair along Como in Canonsburg, Friday, October 5th, 2012. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
A section of sidewalk is disappearing beneath weeds along Euclid St. in Canonsburg, Friday, October 5th, 2012. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
A new sidewalk is adjacent to a section in disrepair along Euclid St. in Canonsburg, Friday, October 5th, 2012. Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review

Canonsburg officials are cracking down on people who don't maintain sidewalks in front of their homes.

Eighteen months ago, the borough sent letters telling residents they had until this month to repair damaged or impassable sidewalks.

“A lot did fix them. Some have not,” said borough Manager Terry Hazlett

Borough code requires owners of property that abuts streets to keep the sidewalk paved and in good repair. Violators can face a $300 fine or imprisonment of up to 90 days.

“We're not interested in the penalty,” Hazlett said. “We're interested in getting it done.”

This year, the borough updated several intersections of main arteries to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Hazlett said it's a problem when people can use accessible crosswalks but end up on bad sidewalks.

Total replacement of a sidewalk can cost $2,000, said Code Enforcement Officer John Elzer, adding most problem areas don't require that much work.

“We want to make sure they take care of any tripping hazards and are compliant with ADA (requirements),” he said.

The borough has granted extensions to several residents and is helping them obtain financial assistance through county redevelopment funds.

“It is an expense, and we're aware of that, but code stipulates residents are responsible for sidewalks,” Hazlett said.

He added that if anyone would fall on an impassable sidewalk, they could sue the homeowner and borough because officials are not enforcing the ordinance.

“We're more than willing to give any type of consideration to people who can't afford to have it done,” said Elzer.

Elzer said areas with the most problems are older sections of the borough. He declined comment on specific streets.

He said the department now is focusing more on reacting to specific complaints than targeting a large group of residents.

“There are still some we have to nudge,” he said.

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or rweaver@tribweb.com.

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