MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mothers of Memphis beware.
The old superstition goes “If you step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.”
If it’s true, the sidewalks of this city are not your friends.
There are cracks. There are missing pieces. There are places that look like the concrete has exploded.
In Memphis, the city installs sidewalks. Then they become the responsibility of the property owners. It starts if the city gets a complaint.
“They notify the owner,” says Public Works Director Robert Knecht, “... and give him a chance to fix it. If the owner doesn’t fix it in a timely fashion, they can be taken to court. A judge can say ok city, they’re not doing it. You do it and put a lean on the property.”
A lot of people don’t know that sidewalks are their property. They are responsible for keeping them free of ice or snow or leaves, Knecht says. And don’t forget the trees.
“They plant their trees close to the street. Big Oak trees are bad. They get so big the root system can destroy sidewalks. Then they have to take action.”
The sidewalk ordinance might be the most misunderstood city ordinance we’ve got. In fact, the Memphis City Council wants Knecht and others to put together a presentation about the rules and regulations. One thing Knecht says he knows is how much it would cost taxpayers if the city did all the necessary repairs.
“It would cost over $5-billion dollars to improve all those sidewalks.”
The next city council meeting is in two and a half weeks.