JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville man contacted the I-TEAM saying he's frustrated his calls to the city of Jacksonville about a dangerous sidewalk are being ignored.
Andy Payne said he reported the damaged sidewalk to the city of Jacksonville's 630-CITY hotline after his mother fell while jogging in January, 2018. Her head hit the concrete.
"All we wanted is the sidewalk fixed. We're not trying to go after the city for money, anything like that. There's a school within 100 yards of here," said Andy -- who reported the crumbling sidewalk because he said he didn't want anyone else to get hurt.
His mother, Diana Payne, was jogging, as she regularly does, with her husband in the 2600 block of DuPont Avenue off San Jose Boulevard when she thinks a raised portion of concrete around a section of crumbling sidewalk caused her toe to get caught.
"The next thing I knew I was face down in the concrete," Diana recalled. "When I sat up, I was bleeding and my husband's there and he's saying, 'Oh no!' He said, 'We got to, we got to go to the emergency room.'"
Diana said she had a concussion, fractured finger and her right eye swelled to the size of a golf ball. It took her six weeks to heal.
"The whole right side of my face was so red and swollen, I didn't want to go anywhere," she told us.
Andy thought the city would repair the sidewalk right away -- considering the severity of his mother's injuries.
"I've sent them all these pictures," said Andy. "I've sent them the pictures of her injuries and everything going on with the sidewalk."
He said the woman who answered his call told him she would make sure the repairs were expedited. Three days later, he did notice orange spray paint marking the portion of the sidewalk where his mother had fallen. He said he thought that was a signal the repairs would be made very soon. But, three months later, no repairs were made.
"Well April rolls around. I drive by here (area of damaged sidewalk) one day on my way home, nothing. Nothing had been done. The paint is starting to fade and I'm wondering what is going on. So, I make another call and I give them the reference number and once again, 'We are going to expedite it,'" Andy said he was told by the city.
Three months after that, there were still no repairs.
"We're now at the end of August, I drive by again, I called for the third time," he said after seeing the sidewalk was still the same. "Once again, it is the same story. They are going to expedite it. And then, during an October 4th phone call (to the city), I get the same song and dance again. That's when I contacted you," Andy told the I-TEAM. "You would think that somewhere in the 10 or 11 months this has been on their books that they should have been able to get to this."
It had been 10 months since his mother had been injured on the crumbling sidewalk when we contacted Mayor Lenny Curry's office. We asked why the sidewalk had not been repaired sooner and asked when repairs would occur.
The mayor's spokesperson told us she would consult with the city's customer service and public works teams and advise us further. Within 12 hours of that conversation, Andy Payne called the I-TEAM to report that the city had contacted him to let him know repairs would start right away.
Less than a week after we contacted the mayor's office about the dangerous section of sidewalk, it was replaced.
The only explanation the mayor's office gave us as to why it took 11 months to make the repairs is in this email:
"Public Works confirmed that it is indeed on the priority list, which is determined by a number of factors. It is my understanding that there are markings on the sidewalk, in the interim, that can alert citizens to the area of concern."
The I-TEAM has reported previously about delays in road and sidewalk repairs within the city's Public Works Department. We have not been given an explanation as to why it can take so long.
We have also been told that citizens who report complaints by calling 630-CITY (2489) have been told that those calls were not always routed to the proper department.
It is our experience that creating a paper trail is the best way to document your reports to the city. You can do this by:
- Emailing complaints to 630City@coj.net
- Including your city council representative on your email to the city -- as we have found council members are able to get answers quickly regarding repair delays
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