Sidewalk Woes for Council Bluffs Neighborhood

Maureen Wurtz

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KPTM)- Ian Clarke didn't see the Council Bluffs city inspectors come to his neighborhood , but they did leave their mark.

"Why do you pay property taxes if they're going to charge you?" said Clarke.

The sidewalk in front of Clarke's home is covered with spray painted Xs.

Clarke's home is just one of the many near Elliott and North Broadway with similar markings.

"That's not exactly cheap," said Clarke.

Clarke received a letter from Council Bluffs Engineers that said he had to fix the uneven sidewalk in front of his house. "Giving you thirty days to fix this?" said Clarke.

Council Bluffs city code says that homeowners are responsible for all property up to the curb. That includes sidewalk, which is listed as public property. "It's a public sidewalk, it's not my responsibility," said Clarke. "I didn't ask them to build it through my house."

Clarke said it could cost him more than one thousand dollars to fix the sidewalk. He said the sidewalk in front of all of his neighbor's homes looks the same, so it could be an engineering problem. "Coming downhill, there's got to be some kind of drainage problem," said Clarke.

The letter said that if the sidewalk isn't fixed within 30 days, Clarke could be taken to civil court and required to pay a fine.

Mark Augustine, a Council Bluffs staff engineer, said if homeowners aren't able to repair, "We can go in and repair the sidewalk ourselves, and assess that back to the property owner."

Clarke said it seems either way he's stuck with a bill he shouldn't have to pay. "Money doesn't grow on trees, but if it did, I wish I had it in my backyard-because I'd be picking it."

Clarke and other homeowners have until the end of May to fix the sidewalk.