Bremerton will try sidewalk spraying pilot program

The Bremerton City Council is set to approve a new pilot program this week for the application of herbicides and removal of weeds and vegetation from the city's sidewalks along arterial streets.

If approved by the council, the work will begin this spring. The low bidder on the new pilot program is Superior Maintenance Solutions (SMS) at a cost of $43,882.50. The work entails some 194,500 lineal feet of herbicide spraying and subsequent cleanup along arterial streets throughout the city.

The program could be extended next year, but Mayor Patty Lent is hoping that it is more of a one-time cleaning that will encourage residents to follow the city's lead. By ordinance, residents are responsible for maintaining sidewalks in front of their homes, but those codes historically have rarely been enforced.

"The property owner is supposed to take care of their yard or property through the sidewalk," Lent said. "If grass or mold grows, they are supposed to take care of it. But, they've never done that and we've never ticketed or enforced that."

Essentially, Lent says that by contracting out the sidewalk cleaning this spring, it will set an example that is in keeping with ongoing efforts to get rid of abandoned homes, hold landlords accountable and beautify Bremerton.

"Usually, our commercial property owners take care of the sidewalks, but we're talking about the areas along 11th Street or Burwell, for instance, that have just been kind of left alone for a number of years or decades," Lent said. "I would like to see this work done and then I'd like to bring the ordinance back to council and ask them, 'How do you feel about enforcing this now that the residents along these streets can maintain it now that it's been cleaned?' That would be my goal."

Lent said sidewalks in front of homes, in the past, have been neglected by elderly residents who can't keep up with the work, other residents facing financial hardships or other issues.

"In a perfect world, I'd like to think that when its cut and cleaned and ready for primetime, the owners of those properties will say, 'Let's help maintain this and keep it looking nice.'" Lent said. "With the ordinance in place, we can let people know or remind them that it's their responsibility and that we would like them to keep it in the shape we all want it to be in."

Milenka Hawkins-Bates, an administration division manager for public works, has worked with volunteer groups in the past on target-specific projects, including one cleanup last summer around Naval Avenue Elementary. She said volunteer cleanup projects like that will continue as needed.

"There's a lot of residential streets that need work, help and good elbow grease out there," Hawkins-Bates said. "So, there will definitely still be a need for volunteer groups from time to time."


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