Syracuse Common Council votes down fine for unshoveled sidewalks

Feb 11, 2014

Syracuse Common Councilors have voted down a plan to fine property owners who don’t shovel their sidewalks. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story.

While lawmakers resoundingly voted down  the idea of a $50 fine for snow shoveling slackers, they admit there is still a problem. And Councilor Kathleen Joy, one of seven lawmakers who voted against the plan, thinks this whole debate over a fine could lead to more action in the end.

"I think it has really stimulated the conversation on this. So we’ll have a committee meeting -- maybe it’s through DPW. Let's get those creative ideas for a solution. It could be anything, but we don’t know at this point,” said Joy.

Councilor Bob Dougherty, who put together the proposal because of concerns over the safety of school children walking in the streets, agrees.

"I’ve received a  lot of feed back from community groups, neighborhood groups. And this is something that they are more concerned with than they’ve let on, because it’s an issue that they deal with every day. I think this is an issue we’ll continue to look (at). I never said this was perfect.”

And Dougherty says some of the ideas he’s heard in the wake of debate, could have merit. For example, licensing teens to shovel walks.

"I think people are afraid to open doors  to strangers. But if somebody had a tag with a picture and a stamp to say I’m a registered shoveler, I think that’s something that could help,” said Dougherty.

And if nothing else, Dougherty says simply talk of a fine has gotten some shovels moving.

"Theres a couple of chronic offenders, that all of a sudden they’ve shoveled, you know? I’ve heard that from a couple of people. Places that have never shoveled," he said.

And some lawmakers also say they would like to look at the City of Syracuse’s policy of clearing city owned sidewalks first.  

“We all know that something needs to be done -- including the city of Syracuse with their own sidewalks. So we have to start there,” said Joy.