Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Keeping snowy sidewalks shoveled

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Keeping snowy sidewalks shoveled
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When the snow is coming down constantly, both roads and sidewalks can get pretty slippery. While DPW crews work to clean the streets, it's the responsibility of home and business owners to clear their sidewalks down to the pavement. Katie Gibas has more.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Most sidewalks outside of downtown Syracuse are not down to the pavement. In Eastwood, most people have shoveled a little bit, but sidewalks are still slippery and snow covered.

Then there are some sidewalks that haven’t been touched. And it's not just homeowners. Many businesses along Erie Boulevard and James Street haven't shoveled either.

If you live in Syracuse, you've probably seen it: People walking in the road on busy streets because sidewalks aren't plowed. That's why city officials are putting out a plea for home and business owners to shovel their sidewalks.

"Anyone that owns property and has a sidewalk abutting their property line, it is their responsibility to maintain and clean that sidewalk. We don't want people to fall and get hurt. We don't want people to get hit by cars because they're walking in the road," said Syracuse DPW Commissioner Pete O’Connor.

"Within 24 hours, people are supposed to get it down to the pavement, no snow, no ice. We understand that it's a challenge. We get a lot of snow, typically, but it's something we expect people to do," said Andrew Maxwell, Syracuse Planning and Sustainability Director.

While a property owner could get a ticket and a fine if their sidewalk isn't clear, enforcement has been a major challenge.

Maxwell said, "Our police department is the only department who can do enforcement on that issue. We tried to put some legislation forth last year that would allow code enforcement to do that enforcement work for sidewalk snow removal, but council didn't seem to think that was the way to go."

But that doesn't mean you're in the clear if you don't shovel.

"If you're sidewalk's not clear, there's no doubt about it, if someone gets hurt because they had to walk in the road or they walked on your unplowed sidewalk, they're definitely going to be putting a claim in against you. Rest assured, you're going to be hearing from their lawyer," O’Connor said.

Some city officials hope the common council will revisit the legislation that would allow the codes department to enforce snow-free sidewalks. Until then, it's on the honor system. But to protect both yourself from lawsuits and others from injuries, it might just be easier to shovel your sidewalk.

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