OLD FOURTH WARD — As the city embarks on its campaign to get property owners to repair broken and cracked sidewalks that front their homes, one homeowner here thinks City Hall should lead by example.
The David T. Howard High School building at 551 John Wesley Dobbs Ave., would be a good place to start.
Opened in 1923 as an elementary school that replaced three other schools opened for freed black slaves and their children, Atlanta Public Schools shuttered it in 1976.
But the school, bounded by Randolph, Irwin and Howell streets, is flanked by broken sidewalks.
It's an issue Billy Hungeling, a Howell Street resident, feels the city should address, especially if residential property owners are to be expected to do the same.
"Sure-footed youths or nimble adults may be able to navigate around these spots but me and my stroller have a hard time getting around these areas without having to walk in the street," Hungeling wrote in a March 28 e-mail to Larry L. Hoskins, APS' deputy superintendent of operations.
"I'm not sure what the large concrete block at the corner of Howell and Irwin is all about but there are rusty metal protrusions sticking out from it which seem very dangerous.
"I cleaned this section of sidewalk a few years ago when you and Atlanta Youth Soccer could not decide about who was responsible for cleaning it up and this big dangerous block was completely covered by weeds. It is now visible but needs to be removed."
In an e-mailed response, Hoskins wrote he had to check with city officials to determine which agency is responsible for maintenance of the problem sidewalks.
"I have reached out to the City’s Transportation Department (Sidewalks) to gain some clarity around the issue of responsibility (COA or APS)," Hoskins wrote in his e-mail to Hungeling. "I’m expecting a return call from Mr. Lawrence Jetter. I will follow-up with you."
A Department of Public Works spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an e-mail request seeking comment Friday.
The condition of city sidewalks has been at the forefront of many neighborhoods, including Grant Park, Candler Park and Virginia-Highland, since the Department of Public Works sent a slew of letters in February to Ormewood Park homeowners informing them they were responsible for the upkeep of their sidewalks.
Those letters further directed homeowners fix the sidewalks — or the city would and then send them the bill.
Hungeling told East Atlanta Patch the broken sidewalks around the former Howard High School have been in a state of disrepair for at least three to five years.
"I'd like them to start taking better care of their buildings," Hungeling said.
"And if property owners are responsible for fixing their own sidewalks I think APS ought to be held accountable too!"
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