Storm-damaged sidewalks still closed

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SARASOTA - This busy Hurricane Season made its presence felt on the Suncoast back in June with Tropical Storm Debby. In the aftermath of the storm, Sarasota closed portions of the sidewalks at Bayfront Park due to some severe damage from the storm. Now, nearly four months later, they're still closed, and some are wondering when and if they'll ever be fixed.

According to officials with the city's Public Works Department, repairing the sidewalks isn't as easy as it seems. They say since a storm caused the damage, there's a process that must be followed. And while it's time consuming, it's nearing its end.

“We had to wait for FEMA to come down and do their inspection. When they did their inspection, they let us know what they were going to cover for the repairs, then we proceeded and got quotes.” Todd Kucharski, Public Works general manager, says FEMA is covering the roughly $40,000 worth of damage. “You're dealing with the storm that impacted us and we're looking to get reimbursed from FEMA to cover those costs for the damage, so it's a process we have to go through.”

But thanks to the city’s purchasing process, repairs can't start until all the requirements are met. “We had to get three quotes, and we waited for contractors to give us those quotes, and now we're in the process of procuring a purchase order,” says Kucharski.

Public works officials say they expect work to start next month.