Shawnee County can’t fix sidewalk until money is in place

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Shawnee County has notified the City of Topeka that they can’t fix a park sidewalk until money is in place for the project.

The City recently sent a final notice after initially sending the county one last November.  Nearly 957 feet of sidewalk has buckled because of tree roots at Shunga Glen Park.

City Spokeswoman, Suzie Gilbertsays they now have a verbal agreement with the county that the sidewalk will be repaired soon.

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Shawnee County commissioners are furious after receiving a final notice from the City of Topeka. Their anger isn’t directed at the city; they’re upset with their own parks department. It all stems from a notice from the City of Topeka dated last November in which the city notified the county parks department about sidewalk repairs. Tree roots have caused damage to nearly 957 feet of sidewalk at Shunga Glen Park. A failure to act by the county parks department resulted in a recent final notice from the city that it would repair the sidewalk at a cost of about $33,000.

Parks Director Terry Bertels tried to justify why the project fell through the cracks. But the commissioners weren’t swayed.

District 2’s Kevin Cook led the questioning: “The city’s actually getting ready to take action against the county for the sidewalk. Aren’t they?”

“That’s what the notice says, yes,” Bertels replied.

“Why would we wait until the 11th hour to bring items like this before the committee?” Cook chided Bertels.

“I’m very disappointed,” District 3’s Bob Archer told Bertels. “We received conditional notice on November the 6th to cure this, and now I’m looking at ‘this is your final notice’ or the City of Topeka is going to have it done for us. How embarrassing would that be?”

Commissioner Archer went on to say that his own personal inspection of the sidewalk found that of 222 sidewalk squares, only 33 needed to be replaced. The commissioners unanimously differed a vote another week, instructing Bertels to contact the city to prevent them from taking action. They further ordered him to come up with a less costly solution. Bertels had initially said he wanted to save the trees, but Archer noted that it would only affect two trees and he would rather save money.

Archer noted that everyone is required to abide by city code, including the county. Bertels tried to point out that the notices he received came through the commissioners’ office, however the commissioners still held him accountable saying that he was responsible for notifying them.

Cook asked Bertels if there were any pending notifications that they were unaware of, and he replied ‘no.’

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