When a sidewalk project wraps or chunks of concrete come out, who is going to pay for it? And if someone gets hurt on a sidewalk, who is footing these medical bills?
On Marco Island, if that sidewalk is in front of your house, you’re responsible. Now some on the island want to change that.
Christine and Michael Dowell didn’t know that buying their home also meant buying responsibility for the sidewalk outside their home. “That just doesn’t sit right with me,” said Michael.
“I have never lived in cities where I’m responsible for the sidewalk in front of my house, and it was kind of appalling to me,” Christine said.
Of the 200 miles worth of sidewalks, only 24 of them are maintained by the City. The rest of them are the owners’ responsibility.
City Council Vice Chair Jared Grifoni has been listening to the complaints. His idea is to put the sidewalk issue to a vote. If a majority of people on Marco Island want The City to take over the cost of sidewalk maintenance, they’d be voting yes on a tax hike to do so.
“Ultimately, it really just needs to be a question for the citizens to answer how they… how they want to pay for the sidewalks because citizens are paying for them no matter what,” Grifoni said.
But the current system does have some perks for the City itself. If you happen to be walking and come across a piece of broken sidewalk, trip, then fall, it wouldn’t be put to the City to pay for medical bills. It would be up to neighbors.
Maroc City Councilman Greg Folley is not sure the City wants to take on that responsibility. “All of a sudden, every minor problem with the sidewalk is going to turn into a major concern,” Folley said.
But the Dowells see it as a question of fairness. “Because the sidewalks, as I said, reflect on the entire community, it should be the entire communities responsibility to take care of them,” said Michael.
Marco Island’s Vice Chair wants to add the question to the August 2022 ballot. But first, Marco Island staff are going to come back to the council with some ideas.