Buckling brick sidewalks raise concerns in historic neighborhood

Buckling brick sidewalks raise concerns in historic neighborhood

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Safety concerns are rising over Richmond’s brick sidewalks after businesses say a number of people have tripped and fallen.

The sidewalks in the Windsor Farms neighborhood reflect the history of that area, but now it’s causing safety issues.

"What we've noticed most is people are now walking up and down the streets, which is dangerous,” said Ron Hochstein, owner of Highstone Group. “If they're walking on the sidewalk, particularly on the side of the building, they shouldn't walk there. There are bricks pointing at 35, 45-degree angles."

Hochstein owns a financial planning company in the Windsor Farms neighborhood. Since they moved into the building in 2011 he said the sidewalks around the property have deteriorated.

"It keeps getting worse and worse,” said Linda Hochstein. “Here comes winter and that's going to make it worse again."

“They’re a death trap for older people in particular and our clientele are generally of that ilk,” Hochstein added.

The Hochsteins have reported the issue numerous times to the RVA311 service but claim they haven't seen any major results.

"Somebody will come out here and they'll take some pictures, take some measurements and then you might see them working somewhere else at a snail’s pace and then we don't see them anymore," Hochstein said.

The state of these sidewalks are causing issues for a number of other people as well, more specifically about 500 ladies who attend the Tuckahoe Woman's Club weekly.

"We have had several members fall and injure themselves in the last couple of years,” said President Hunter Gundlach. “We had a member break her wrist."

Several years ago the club decided to fix the bricks on its own, allowing members to purchase a brick and engrave a name to balance out the cost for the repair work. However, that work was only done directly in front of the building.

"They're parking all up and down here and most are having to walk in the streets to get to the club and the streets aren't in much better shape than the sidewalks,” Gundlach said.

"There are a great many elderly clientele that belong to the non-profit club,” said Susan Boze, House Committee Chair for the club. “Therefore, it's very treacherous for them. They're with canes and walkers as it is. Then to have the street and the sidewalk, they have no options.

In May, city council approved $16.2 million to help improve streets and sidewalks in Richmond, which is reportedly four times as much as past years.

Mayor Levar Stoney said the city has repaired roughly 3,000 sidewalks in the last two and a half years. Crews are slated to complete about 2,000 more repairs over the next fiscal year.

"We’re doing our best to get to as many tripping hazards as possible in the city and the funding that the mayor was able to secure for us is going to enable, us not to get the everything, but we can make a dent in the backlog that we have,” Director of Richmond Department of Public Works Bobby Vincent said.

Messages to the Department of Public Works regarding the sidewalk concerns in the Windsor Farms neighborhood were not immediately returned.

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