By Carol McCracken (Post # 716)
Last night the city’s transportation committee voted 2 – 1 not to amend the city’s present sidewalk clearing ordinance. Councilor Ed Suslovic brought the matter to the Committee’s attention on behalf of some of his constituents on Outer Congress Street who have been overwhelmed this snowy winter by the huge snow banks that plow trucks have created in front of some residences – making it impossible for citizens to remove them within the city’s time schedule. Suslovic was the sole vote in favor of easing the city’s snow removal policy.
Janet Daigle and Donna Barnard, president of the newly formed Hobart Street Neighborhood Association, both testified in favor of policy changes in cases where snow drifts are so big that normal use of shovels and snow blowers by residents would not make an effective dent in the piles. Refusal to remove the snow banks has resulted in “threats” from the city to place liens on applicable homes. Councilor Suslovic was seeking from the Committee a “formalized waiver system” for properites on multi-lane arterials with no esplande with requirements to clear the sidewalks, so residents will not have any legal action taken against them.” Other city residents testified in support of their request for changes of the ordinance.
Mary Costigan, city attorney, and Mike Bobinsky, testified that the Public Services Department does not have the auhority to grant a waiver granting immunity from clearing sidewalks. The City has exercise enforcement discretion in certain cases and the city manager can declare a delay in enforcement, which has been done recently when 13 plus inches of snow has accumulated. Public Services was asked by the City Managers office to restore the sdewalk snow clearing servicecut along outer Congress Street, outbound lane only, from Stevens Avenue to Unum, said Bobinsky in an email response to MHN.com
Upon questioning, Michael Bobinsky, director of the public services department, said: “This is a complaint based system here. We do have discretion – at times we do go in and remove snow.” Suslovic was told he could pursue the matter further with the Public Safety Committee if he chose to do so.