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Fine dead, Syracuse looks for another sidewalk shoveling answer

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
People shovel snow along East Fayette St. following a February snowstorm. (file photo)

Since Syracuse lawmakers handily defeated the idea of fining property owners who don’t clear snow from their sidewalks, they’ve begun discussing a bigger picture solution for snow-filled walkways.

Some Syracuse city councilors sat down Wednesday with public works, school district and parks department officials. They also talked to heads of community groups that organize sidewalk shoveling teams in the winter.

"If we have all of these people out here doing it, why can’t we formulate ourselves, pull it together and be able to cover a bigger portion of our city?" said councilor Helen Hudson.

There are 586 miles of sidewalks in Syracuse. Some of that falls within public works, the school district or parks department, but a majority is privately owned. The Downtown Committee clears 24 and a quarter miles of sidewalk in the business district.

The general consensus, says Hudson, is that teaming up could lead to more snow removal. She says now is a good time to start this larger conversation.

"Because if we start it now, this is the winter, hopefully next winter we’ll have something in place that we won’t be talking about this again," Hudson said. "It’s been a 20 year effort and maybe we can be the one to break the code."

There was also frustration directed at private snowplows that dump snow where they shouldn’t, and business owners who don’t bother clearing walks. Fines for business owners who don't shovel and private plows who violate the rules are still being discussed.