The massive road and sidewalk replacement taking place on south 13th street on Milwaukee’s near Southside will soon be breaking up pavement on the Eastside of the street.
Milwaukee Water Works is monitoring the work and testing the water after issues were raised about construction work disturbing the lead service lines (potentially causing speaking of lead in the water) located along the stretch of road under construction.
As the community group Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC) continues to monitor the situation, an unrelated matter popped up when FLAC members were canvassing the area.
It was learned that property owners having fences in front of their house were being told by city officials that they will have to bear the cost of removing and replacing the fences because work crews digging out the sidewalk need space.
Property owners have stated that this came as a surprise to them. They informed FLAC that at no time did the city, before or during this construction, told them they would have to pay out of pocket for removing the fence and then replacing it if they wanted a fence in front of their home.
“These are people on fixed incomes”, said Robert Miranda, spokesman for the group.”
One of the homeowners, Manuel Gaona told FLAC that he’s on disability and struggles to buy milk sometimes for his grandchildren. He states that he was never informed before construction on his block stated that he would be faced with having to pay for the city to come on his property and remove his fence and replacing it once the work was done. He says that he feels his rights as a property owner are being infringed upon.
“How is it that without any prior notice to homeowners having fences on their property, can the city just come and remove their fence and then tell the homeowner to pay for replacing the fence?”, asked Miranda.
Mr. Gaona was told that the city will be contacting the contractors doing the work to inform them that they can remove the fence from Gaona’s property at no cost to Mr. Gaona, but that replacing the fence will have to be responsibility of Mr. Gaona.
“This is unacceptable. Forcing people on fixed incomes to pay for damages to their property is out of line. It also brings to light a question”, said Miranda
“If the city can’t remove lead service lines that are on private property, by what authority can the city remove fences on private property?”, Miranda continued.
Currently, the city is looking into the matter.