HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Sidewalk construction poked a hole

Written May 28th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

The unfinished sidewalk ramp on the northwest corner of Fist Avenue and Broadalbin Street on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 28.

It seems like forever that the sidewalk has been torn up on the northwest corner of Broadalbin Street and First Avenue in downtown Albany. What happened, why is it taking so long to make repairs?

First I got the gist of the story from Larry and Summer Bumpus, who operate the shop at the corner, the Oak Creek Collection Marketplace. Then, Albany City Engineer Staci Belcastro provided the details.

What happened was that a contractor for the city was working to replace the sidewalk ramp with one that meets requirements under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. As it turns out, the basement of the adjacent building extends under the sidewalk. This was discovered when, in Belcastro’s words, “we broke a hole in its ceiling.”

Basements extending into the public right-of-way apparently are common downtown, which Albany officials learned in 2007 when the Penney’s Building, on the same block of First Avenue, was about to be remodeled. The basement-sidewalk situation complicated that project and added to its expense.

On the corner of Broadalbin, what you might call the basement breakthrough happened in January, Belcastro recalls. As Summer Bumpus remembers it, it seems like the sidewalk has been torn up since before Christmas.

In any case, now what?

“Unfortunately,” the city engineer told me by email, “the substructure supporting the ceiling of the basement is in poor condition, so it’s not simply a matter of patching the hole in the ceiling and re-pouring the sidewalk ramp. Repairs are also required to the basement’s substructure.”

To that end, she said, the city hired a structural engineer and now has a design to repair both the hole in the ceiling and the basement’s substructure.

“Since the substructure damage is an existing condition, we have asked that the property owner sign paperwork that will indemnify the city from being responsible for its condition, and any resulting damage to the building. As soon as the city receives the signed paperwork we will move forward with making the repairs.”

The building on that corner was built in 1890, according to Linn County tax records. The assessor’s records name Linda Poris, of Albany, as the owner.

Customers do have access to the corner shop, which features a wide variety of items from gifts to home decor and furniture. But the Bumpuses say all those construction barriers and “sidewalk-closed” signs out front may have cut into their business. So you have to hope that if it isn’t already, the “paperwork” will be settled soon. (hh)



9 responses to “Sidewalk construction poked a hole”

  1. Jeff Senders says:

    It’s the same reason the street-side “planter box’s” exist on The Promenade between First and Second Streets. In order to maintain the construction schedule, these planter boxes were brilliantly conceived because there wasn’t any time to shore up the area to support vehicles. However, the subsequent loss of parking has doomed several adjacent business’ over the years south of the alleyway. A different meaning to the popular term “obstruction.”

  2. H. R. Richner says:

    Thank you federal Americans with Disabilities act. Is it constitutional because it is interstate commerce?

  3. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “Basements extending into the public right-of-way apparently are common downtown, which Albany officials learned in 2007 when the Penney’s Building, on the same block of First Avenue, was about to be remodeled. The basement-sidewalk situation complicated that project and added to its expense.”

    As the last manager of the downtown JCP store until it closed & moved to Heritage mall (and also now closed), I do recall the quite small “room” under the sidewalk. We used it for some odds ‘n ends storage of fixtures, etc.

  4. J. Jacobson says:

    Fill in the hole with concrete and let the building owners sue if they want. Why must we bow down to every underground blast from the past. Let’s the courts decide. By the time Albany’s City Attorney stalls, no one will remember why the whole thing ever got going.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “Why must we bow down to every underground blast from the past.”

      You betcha – just ignore all the design flaws from the past. Someone else will take the brunt of the damage & subsequent lawsuits to bring things into common sense compliance…

  5. Leroy says:

    So because the city decided to redo the sidewalk approaches knowing of the basements proximity to the side walk and didn’t bother to warn the contractor, Linda Poris must sign a paper that states because the city did wilfully ignore sharing the close proximity of the basement to the sidewalk with the contractors, it is she who must say it is ok that you bust up the place and if your actions further damage my structure i wont hold you accountable? When your investment is destroyed in some fashion by someones carelessness that caelessness should be taken to court, there is nothing that gets attention better than a spanking from the court. The citys basements had to be on someones mind in the city, for these construction jobs, and push aside.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Leroy,
      the property owner under the sidewalk is the City, The City could just fill it in, problem solved, The City is choosing to take the high road, did the engineering, will fix the problem. If the adjacent property owner would like to have the City do that, she should sign off, if not, ok, I would be in favor of building a form underneath and hitting it with concrete…

      • centrist says:

        Rich K
        Before backing the concrete pour, please have an expert review how that would affect the existing adjacent structures. The weight of that monolith just might cause subgrade subsidence.

 

 
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