Granville Then & Now – Village should replace broken sidewalks

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

Spring is here. The buds have appeared on the bushes and trees. Some have begun to sprout out their leaves, and a few trees and bushes are beginning to open their blossoms. The grass has become green once more. Farmland is being prepared for planting crops, and the seasonal application of manure is here again.

With the frost heaving period having passed by, local towns have resurfaced their dirt roads with their grading machines, and the ruts and dips seen earlier in the year are now gone. The rivers, lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water are now clear, the ice having melted away. The water is still very cold, however, and won’t warm up to any appreciable degree until well into June.

Lawnmowers are being brought forth from their winter dormancy, some to have maintenance work, others to be put directly to use. People are now preparing to plant their gardens for this year. The cool wind on sunny days of last month has finally given way to warmer wind. Daytime temperatures are reaching consistently into the 60s and 70s, and it will only be a matter of time before the thermometer passes the threshold of 80 degrees.

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The annual Granville Town Wide Yard Sale happens this weekend, May 14 and 15. It is sponsored by the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce. There will be sales all over the town and in the village. There will also be vendors in front of the high school and in Veterans Memorial Park. Those who enjoy going to yard sales and town-wide yard sale events will want to visit Granville this weekend. This event was successful last year and in prior years and is likely to a success again this year.

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Has anyone noticed the sorry condition of most of the sidewalks along the streets in the village of Granville? Broken slate slabs, partially eroded concrete slabs, uneven connections, slabs subsided into dirt and other problems. The horrendous condition of many of the village street sidewalks are of such a severe condition that people walk or run, or push strollers, on the shoulders of the streets, in the road, instead of on the deteriorated sidewalks. If one wants to see bad sidewalks, look no further than the sidewalks along North Street or Church Street.

A local sidewalk ordinance passed by the village board in early 2000 mandated concrete as the only sidewalk surface, with no exceptions. The last ordinance also attempted to place the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance and repair on the owner of the property adjacent to the right of way, although a 50-50 payment sidewalk improvement plan was offered. However, most street sidewalks in Granville are of such a degraded condition that it would be infeasible for a property owner to replace the sidewalk themselves, even with the potential of the village reimbursing them 50% of the cost.

One reason the slate sidewalks have yet to be replaced is that many Granville residents hold a common, backwards attitude regarding slate sidewalks, feeling that Granville should have slate sidewalks, since Granville is the colored slate capital of the world. The village board of 2000 should have been commended for breaking away from this misguided practice, steeped in nostalgia, of having slate sidewalks. Those slate sidewalks are harder and more costly to maintain than concrete sidewalks. Slate is a wonderful, long-lasting material for roofing, but when stepped on as roofing material, it breaks easy; likewise, slate flagging sidewalks deteriorate as they are walked on, and as the village sidewalk snowplow rides over them. Slate flagging was used for sidewalk installations in the past due to its local abundance but is obsolete as a sidewalk material.

The 50-50 payment plan introduced by the village board in 2000 was a novel idea. This type of law was intended to be used with a well-maintained sidewalk system, that residents could then repair as needed. However, the condition of the village sidewalks was much the same then as it is now. Granville would first have to have a quality sidewalk system for the 50-50 payment system to work properly.

Granville should look into redoing all the village sidewalks, in stages, over the next few years, paid in full by the village. This would, at completion, result in Granville having sidewalks that people could walk on, run on, or push strollers along. Also, it would fix the present inherent flaw with the 50-50 sidewalk repair system. These new sidewalks, if built, would also likely be the best sidewalks in any village in this vicinity. Hopefully Granville will soon modernize its sidewalks with new concrete sidewalks and go from having the worst sidewalks in this area to having the best.