Four sidewalks projects came before the council Tuesday, Dec. 12, to be approved because they deviated from the city’s policy.

The subject can and often has become charged because citizens foot the bill when a sidewalk is installed on their property, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Alder Denise Duranczyk (Dist. 1) proposed removing one project from the list of planned sidewalk installations -- adding new sidewalk to the south side of one-block long Patterson Street -- because of its cost, the area’s lack of foot traffic and the inadvisability of adding impermeable surfaces that tax the city’s stormwater infrastructure. The other alders voted this down, though some agreed with her premise that the policy has to be reviewed.

Ald. Kathleen “Tass” Johnson (D-2) was a vocal critic of the lack of time between when people are notified and when the potentially expensive bill comes due, telling public works director Brett Hebert, “for $5,000, at least take them out to dinner before you do what you do to them.”

When retaining walls are involved, Ald. Sid Boersma (D-1) said, the cost can be upwards of $20,000.

Mayor Tim Swadley interrupted Duranczyk’s speech, agreeing the policy could be looked at, but not during a council meeting. He said no one had shown up to the Public Works committee meeting when the issue was discussed “at length.”

Duranczyk said she’d request the policy be put on a future agenda, and all four projects were approved as the committee had recommended.

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