To the editor:
It is reasonable to require sidewalks to be cleared of snow in a timely fashion, but it is not reasonable to require owners of abutting property to clear snow pushed over a walk by street plows, whether or not the walk was cleared beforehand. I have often seen my freshly shoveled walk covered by the city plow, typically to several times the thickness of the original snowfall, and if that snow partially melts then freezes, clearing this ice is nearly impossible.
Calls to the appropriate city office elicit sympathetic responses and word that my complaint will be passed on, but I have never had a call back from someone in authority. A guideline to “be lenient in issuing tickets in cases where city snow plows have covered sidewalks” (Journal World, Dec. 3) is unclear. What does “lenient” mean? That I am given more time but am expected to shovel twice? That the city-plowed snow can remain? And who is legally responsible if someone is injured after a cleared walk has been plowed over?
Three possible solutions: The city could plow the sidewalks as is done in some communities; city crews could be educated as to which streets have abutting sidewalks and instructed not to plow them so near the curb; or the city could clear the sidewalk when its owner complains. The first and third will entail some city expense, the third leaves open the matter of legal liability for injuries.
A revised ordinance must address this problem directly and clearly. It is important to pedestrians and property owners alike.