Residents, county, state at odds on sidewalk work

January 05, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

How low is the curb in front of Lewis and Bertha Tawney's house?

So low that if the 7400 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. in Glen Burnie is resurfaced again, their curb and sidewalk will be lower than the roadway; that delivery trucks park on their sidewalk; that rainwater runs off the road and pools on their front lawn.

So low that snow plows scrape away at it as they clear the road. And that's their problem.

The snow plows and the trucks have left the sidewalk cracked and crumbling. The road has been resurfaced so many times that its surface has been raised to the level of the curbs.

The county repeatedly has torn up and patched the road to do water and sewer work, occasionally installing a macadam curb that eventually chipped away.

The Tawneys could put in a higher curb and new sidewalk for about $1,300, but they say they don't have the money. And they argue, along with their next-door neighbor Joe Pavlick, that government agencies have helped to create the problems and should help fix them, even though homeowners are legally responsible for their sidewalks.

"These snowplows come up and down the road -- they tear the sidewalk up," Mr. Pavlick said. "I've lived here since June 1964. I've replaced the sidewalk twice."

Mr. Pavlick and the Tawneys had hoped to take advantage of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association's (GBIA) sidewalk repair pact with the county. They would pay 25 percent of the cost of a new sidewalk, the GBIA would pay 25 percent and the county would pick up the other half.

But they are ineligible for the program because they live on a state, not county, road. And the county doesn't subsidize work in the state right-of-way, said Don Gibson, who coordinates the GBIA's sidewalk program.

"I can't get the county to go along with the state," Mr. Gibson said. "I wanted to replace all the sidewalk on the right side of B&A."

For its part, the state generally doesn't make sidewalk repairs, a State Highway Administration spokesman said.

Work crews can't help but push snow onto the sidewalk there, said John Healy, the highway administration spokesman. But maintenance supervisors would be willing to look at the problem and make recommendations about what, if any, financial responsibility, the state should assume, he said.

Few homeowners live in that section of the street just north of the center of old Glen Burnie, which has changed to mostly offices and shops in the past 40 years. Homeowners who remain have nudged the state and county governments about the deteriorating curb and sidewalk over the years.

Arthur and Genevieve Taylor, who live on the other side of the Tawneys, couldn't wait any longer. Two years ago, they put in a new curb themselves. "I did it to keep someone from getting hurt and getting sued," Mr. Taylor said.

Former Glen Burnie Urban Renewal Administrator Victor Sulin said the county had considered more than three years ago extending a brick walkway and trees from the Urban Renewal District along Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard almost to Dorsey Road. "But it never got off the ground," he said.

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