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Syracuse is thinking big on curbs, gutters, sidewalks

It's probably the most ambitious project in the history of Syracuse - creating an almost citywide special improvement district.

Most cities create special improvement districts to fix single streets or neighborhoods, but this district proposal could be the largest ever by a single city in Davis County.The goal: To install curb, gutter and sidewalk along the majority of this rural city's roads outside of subdivisions.

The reason: "The council felt a need to provide some safety," said City Manager Mike Moyes. He said many children walking to and from school on busy streets with no sidewalks.

The causes: Ever-increasing school population and a new elementary school in the city that will open in the fall of 1999. Also, a large reduction in school busing several years ago.

The cost: An estimated $3.4 million, with the city paying about one-third, $1.3 million, and the rest from residents, $2.1 million.

According to the city engineer's other estimates, the cost per foot of frontage to residents could be as high as $31. With an average affected house having a frontage of 100 feet, that equals a bill as high as $3,100.

However, with residents' help, officials hope that cost can be lowered to $15-$18 per foot.

That help might include residents taking out their own trees as needed, repairing uncovered sprinkling systems, etc.

The city will probably pay to relocate all water meters as needed.

One possibility for financing the project is to spread the cost over 10 years of residents' property taxes.

The timetable: Affected residents will be notified by mail of the proposal the next few weeks. The City Council has already unanimously approved the plan to create a special improvement district.

The first of several public hearings on the proposal will be at 7 p.m. March 10 at City Hall.

If things go well, installation could begin this summer.

Moyes admits many things still need to be worked out. For example, does the council exempt or help out property owners who have more than 100 feet of front-age?

The council went big because it can always reduce the size of the district, but it's difficult to enlarge it. If residents on one street or in one neighborhood oppose the plan, they might be eliminated from it.

Still, the council hopes most people will go along with it to increase pedestrian safety.

Any new homes in the city, even those outside subdivisions, must install curb, gutter and sidewalk now. However, the problem is with the many homes built before that ordinance was passed recently.

State roads in the city, like 1700 South and the north end of 2000 West, cannot be a part of the plan. They're not in the city's jurisdiction.

Also, some mostly rural sections of road, like part of Bluff Road and 3000 West, will not be included in the proposed district.

Lindsay Dickinson, the principal at Syracuse Elementary, said she likes the proposal. She hopes no child will be injured on the roads before it can be accomplished.

Besides adding curb, gutter and sidewalk, some sections of road will also be widened.