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Negotiations move forward with private sidewalk snow contractor in Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo

With some hesitation, the Syracuse Common Council voted unanimously Monday to authorize up to $170,000 with a private contractor to clear some of the city’s sidewalks of snow. But councilors still have concerns.

City officials will continue negotiations with B and T Landscaping and Lawn Care of North Syracuse to come with an agreement on a flat fee to clear 40 miles of sidewalks with high pedestrian traffic, after four inches of snow falls.

The council unanimously approved the funding, which will come out of the Department of Public Works budget. But Councilor Joe Driscoll said he wants the sidewalks along the routes checked for disrepair before the program begins, so people don’t say a sidewalk plow is what caused it.

"We should have an inventory of damage already been done, so we don’t end up with superfluous complaints," Driscoll said. "We've worked well with this administration and I want to give them the ability to run a pilot, and try out something new, and try to address this problem that we've heard about from constituents for so long. At the same time, I want to make sure we are doing our due diligence and make sure this is being rolled out properly."      

Neil Burke, transportation planner with DPW, said sidewalk inspection is a part of this pilot program.

"We talked about hotspots earlier where we have sidewalks that aren’t in the greatest condition," Burke said. "Checking on those, making sure we’re documenting those, is part of this. It’s not the forefront, it’s a side benefit of offering this service."

Burke said the contractor, B and T, has walked the routes and is aware of the sidewalks’ conditions. City officials said they recognize this program has not been done before in Syracuse, and there will be some learning, revising and adapting as they go. The hope is to have a contract signed before the end of the year.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.