Grants make funds available for sidewalk repairs in Reading

 

The easiest path can be hard to find if you're using the sidewalks in Reading.

"Pretty bad, pretty bad," said Tom Manis. "Some of them, you can't even get around them because of the bricks. The trees are pushing the bricks up."

It's particularly hard for Manis, who has a prosthetic leg.

"I tripped because I didn't pick my foot up far enough, and I tripped and fell over," Manis said.

Sidewalk repairs typically fall to the property owner, even though everyone uses them, but in a financially strapped community, it's not always a priority.

The city is taking steps to help to make improvements through a sidewalk repair and replacement grant program.

"It's in the budget, so yes, we have the resources to do the pilot program," said Ralph Johnson, Reading's public works director.

Applications are being accepted. Selection will be done through a prioritization process. For example, properties in high-foot traffic areas and those in financial distress will likely be approved first.

"We're expecting to have more applicants than we have resources," said Johnson.

Johnson said the city is working to find contractors to make repairs to city sidewalks and curbs, and he hopes the grant will be an extension of that.

"These homeowners would be nuts not to apply for it," Manis said.

There are a few exclusions to what the grant will pay for. It won't cover tree removal or replace brick sidewalks.