Sidewalks Responsibilities – Private or Public

Although a home owner does not actually “own” the sidewalk in front of their property, they are still held responsible for maintaining the condition of the sidewalk and the public right of way. The reason is, the public right of way is not only for the convenience of others, it also benefits the home owner by allowing safe access to their own home.

Our ordinances clarify that the owner of property or landlord’s agent is responsible to remove any snow, ice or other obstruction upon any sidewalk in front of or along their property that may interfere with the free, easy, or safe passage of people along and over such sidewalk.

I received a visitor last week to remind me how hard the recent series of storms have been for her to travel around the downtown because not all of the property owners have cleared their sidewalks – ours included. She was right, we need to make sure our sidewalks are cleared too!

We can all agree with the reason for this ordinance. The City does not have the resources to clear all of the sidewalks in town nor does the public want to pay for the staff it would take to complete the clearing of all of the sidewalks in town. So, this is the only way to ensure the sidewalks are cleared. I also know that not all property owners have the same ability to clear their sidewalk. For some of us, sidewalks are a person’s only form of transportation, especially for those using wheelchairs.

Our salt and sand budget is $15,000, and we typically buy materials during the summer to get the best price; this year, we used salt that had been in the barn for over 10 years and had to replenish our resources between storms at almost twice the price. We focus our resources to ensure all of the hills are safe for cars to travel, treat the main roads first, and neighborhood streets last. During the last several years, we have become accustomed to limiting travel or changing plans when storms are predicted, it has made it so much easier to avoid compounded problems

In recent years, we have had few snow and ice events, but this year has kept us busy with back to back storms. I know that several businesses suffer because their customers can’t safely move from their cars over the snow on the curbs and into the front doors.

Frustrations are growing, we just want to safely move about and visit our favorite places. Hang in there, it is almost springtime. Thank you for doing your part to clear the sidewalks, it is good for all of us.