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January 20, 2014

Plattsburgh's ice-covered sidewalks causing issues

PLATTSBURGH — Every winter, City of Plattsburgh officials receive complaints about sidewalks left covered in snow and ice, but this year, the phones are lighting up more than ever.

“Oh, yes, we’ve had quite a few complaints this year,” Mayor James Calnon confirmed.

MACHINE SUGGESTED

Resident Andrew Golt is one of those complainants. He appeared at the last Common Council meeting to tell Calnon and city councilors that many sidewalks in the city are not passable, and some are dangerous to walk on.

Golt, who owns several properties in the city, said he and his wife dutifully clear the sidewalks in front of their properties. But, he said, many other landlords are irresponsible and make no effort to clear paths.

“It’s unconscionable,” he said.

He suggested the city invest in a snow-removal machine designed specifically for sidewalks and take care of the job itself, instead of relying on property owners.

TENACIOUS ICE

There is a city ordinance that calls for property owners to clear the sidewalks in front of their properties within 24 hours of a major snowstorm.

If that doesn’t happen and there are complaints, the city will do the work and bill the owners.

Calnon said this winter has proven more difficult than usual because of the combination of ice and snowstorms.

Heavy, thick ice has hardened like concrete on many sidewalks, making it impossible to remove without heavy equipment.

City Public Works crews have been out pounding away at the hardened ice on the streets, but it has been slow going.

“The ice, the snow, the ice and then the snow again has put us way behind,” Calnon said.

SALT SCARE

The ordinance does say that if the ice is too difficult to remove, the property owners should salt or sand the sidewalks.

Calnon said that finding salt in stores was difficult after a major ice storm hit around the holidays and sales skyrocketed.

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