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Students ready to see sidewalks fixed

If you trip walking home from class, don't be so quick to blame your clumsiness. Sidewalks in the university district are in disrepair.

Many of these sidewalks have not had maintenance of any kind since the 1930s. Many students, including myself, not only can identify times they experienced inconveniences, but also could name specific locations that are in particularly poor condition. Many of these have caused falls that resulted in minor injuries.

This has been an ongoing issue that past Student Government Associations have tried to tackle. This year, my goal is to work closely with the Hays City Commission and other community members to begin finding a solution.

The relationship between landlord and tenant is one of mutual obligation. Just as tenants are responsible for the upkeep of the house's interior, landlords should assume the responsibility for maintaining the exterior of the property. Many options can be exhausted to repair the sidewalks.

According to current city ordinances, property owners assume responsibility for the cost of labor while the city will pick up the tab on concrete. Another option that has been proposed in the past is doing a special tax district. This will allow the city to come in and fix the sidewalks while assessing a special property tax for "x" number of years. Grants would be a viable option in a better economic climate.

Ultimately, students will stomach the cost if landlords pass the burden on to them through increased rents. However, it is likely students still would feel the cost even if the city chose to fund the project. The city would pay for it through taxes, which would be reflected in rents.

Many community members have complained about the area being in poor appearance. Fixing these sidewalks would provide incentive for students to take care of the properties. Sidewalks enhance the appearance of individual properties, neighborhoods and the entire community. Sidewalks shouldn't be an obstacle in the way of getting home, but should facilitate it. The benefits of fixing uneven patches of the sidewalks far outweigh the costs.

Christopher Roberts is president of the Student Government Association for 2013-14.