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Slip-sliding away: Logan to target homeowners who don’t shovel

March 10th, 2013 Posted in Opinion

By Jessica Sonderegger

LOGAN—Whether Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring was accurate or not, melting icicles are singing a sweet song throughout the valley after a dreary winter.

“Can’t wait,” said James Geirer, Logan’s Neighborhood Improvement manager. “It’s been an ugly winter on the Island.”

Most city officials seem to agree. But their issue with this most recent winter is not necessarily how much snow the valley received or January’s bitter sub-zero chill. It’s the lack of sidewalk maintenance that has plagued some Logan residents.

“When the ice builds up that thick,” said Logan resident Petrice Rose, “it’s terrifying to walk anywhere—even just over to your neighbor’s.”

That’s an opinion city officials share, so they extended a challenge to the community at the end of January to find a solution.

“We are asking them to get creative about how to solve a significant neighborhood problem,” said James Olson, who directs Logan’s Community Development Block Grant program.

It is the legal responsibility of property owners to keep the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses safe and passable. It’s a safety issue, officials say.

The Clear the Way Winter Challenge was an idea that not only incorporated residents, but gave the city ample suggestions on how residents think the issue could be corrected.

The challenge encourages city residents to consider their own experiences and their own neighborhoods when making suggestions on how to clear unshoveled sidewalks. Olson says the idea is for neighbors to help monitor their own neighborhoods without an overwhelming amount of government intervention.

The deadline for suggestions on clearing Logan’s sidewalks was Feb. 28, and Olson says the feedback is appreciated.

“The response was strong, attracting 35 suggestions and comments from 19 people,” he said. “In the coming week, we’ll sit down and review all the suggestions and see if there are some we like more than others, which we can explore further.”

Geirer said many residents focused complaints on rental complexes, where neither tenants nor owners seem to take responsibility for clearing sidewalks.

“Communication with rental properties was the predominant idea, since they are often remiss in clearing the public right of way,” Geirer said. “We’re developing a snow removal program that includes public education and notice, in addition to an enforcement approach.”

Resident Petrice Rose says the solution can’t come too soon.

“I’m not sure what the ultimate solution could be,” she said, “but I’m glad to know someone is thinking about it and working on it for next winter.”


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