Snow removal from sidewalks is the responsibility of the property owner abutting the sidewalk.
A release from the city of Dunkirk Department of Public Works was issued Thursday reminding all property owners that the clearing, shoveling and maintenance of their sidewalk is the responsibility of the property owner. In addition, the release states property owners are required to keep the sidewalk clear of snow, especially in school zones so that children and other pedestrians are not forced to walk in the street.
The authority for the language comes from the City Code under Chapter 65-31, which covers removal of snow and ice.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
This Washington Avenue sidewalk between Second and Third streets in the city of Dunkirk is one of many in the city of Dunkirk that remained unshoveled Thursday afternoon.
DPW Director Tony Gugino was asked about the compliance with the sidewalk clearance.
"I would say 30 to 40 percent compliance on any given day," he replied.
"Obviously, the biggest concern is during the heavier snow events or the more continuous type of two- and three-day events. The sidewalks, obviously, become very impassable unless they're cleaned and kept up. It's been an ongoing problem for many years but again, I've really noticed it during the last two days, the number of kids and pedestrians walking in the roads.
"I'm appealing to everybody to keep in mind the code and responsibility language within it and do what they can because it is a very important thing relative to safety."
Gugino added it was a citywide concern of both his department and the police department due to safety.
According to 65-31, every person, partnership, corporation, joint-stock company, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or syndicate in charge or control of any building or lot of land within the city fronting or abutting on a sidewalk, whether as owner, tenant, occupant, lessee or otherwise, shall remove and clear away or cause to be removed or cleared away snow and ice from so much of the sidewalk as is in front of or abuts on said building or lot.
The chapter also allows the sanding or application of another "abrasive" to be put on the sidewalk if the removal of snow and ice that is so hard would damage the sidewalk. However, the sidewalk must be cleaned to make at least a path as soon as possible.
In addition, the code also has restrictions on places where snow can be put, including on or against a fire hydrant or any sidewalk, highway, street or roadway or loading and unloading areas of a public transportation system; any area where it would obstruct the view of vehicular traffic or obstruct any sidewalk nor impede, impair or obstruct any pedestrian traffic.
It is also against the City Code to deposit or cause to be deposited any snow, gravel or stone or other debris or material on, upon or against any property someone doesn't own, control or have authority.
There are possible penalties upon conviction of violating any provisions of this chapter of the code, including a fine of not more than $250 or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 days, or both.
Gugino said there have been no fines during his tenure as DPW director.
"I would prefer that I don't have to go that far. Normally, when we appeal to people, as we are now, we see a much greater response and people usually step to the plate voluntarily," he explained.
The city does have a sidewalk plow and Gugino was asked about its use.
"The sidewalk plow, quite frankly, is a luxury that we can use when we have the manpower or the time," he replied. "It's a courtesy, people should not plan on it because again, the responsibility of the daily maintenance of a sidewalk first and foremost falls with the property owner."
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