Town codes on clearing snow from sidewalks

The already-shoveled sidewalk next to William Jordan's house The already-shoveled sidewalk next to William Jordan's house is covered with ice and grit after snowplows passed by. Photo Credit: Newsday / Judy Cartwright

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Judy Cartwright Judy Cartwright

Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column

So much snow, so little time.

Here are three of the issues raised by readers in the past week:

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It's like we never shoveled. Part 1

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State snow plows come through here at 40 mph or better and shoot all the heavy wet snow, with salt in it, onto the sidewalks that we've already cleared. Years ago they would come through at a reasonable speed, and it wasn't that bad. Now they speed past, which pushes all the heavy slush back on the sidewalks that we're supposed to keep clear.

-- William Jordan, New Hyde Park

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Jordan lives on a corner of Hillside Avenue, a four-lane state road. He's been there 58 years and, after last week's weather, says he's just about had enough.

All he's asking is this: Can the state Department of Transportation instruct plow operators to slow down along Hillside, between Lakeville and New Hyde Park roads?

"This is the only section that has houses," he said when we first spoke. "I've called the state a couple of times" but received no response.

Slower plows meant snow wouldn't fly so far, he said, but now "they go at such speeds that the plows shoot the snow right over the sidewalk."

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"I'm getting a little too old to clean up their mess," said Jordan, who is 85. "But we have to keep the sidewalk clear. It's the law."

He's right. North Hempstead's Town Code states that snow and ice are to be cleared from a sidewalk "between such property line and the curbline . . . within four hours after snow has ceased to fall," excluding overnight hours.

When we visited, the sidewalk in front of his house was clear -- it's on a town street, cleared by town plows. But the sidewalk along Hillside was covered in gritty snow and ice.

On Tuesday, we asked the Department of Transportation if plows could slow down along that stretch. We don't have an answer yet; the department cited 'round-the-clock work on the snowstorms as the reason why.

As for Jordan: On days before he gets the sidewalk re-cleared -- sometimes, the plows pass several times -- he's seen pedestrians walking in the road. "I was going to make a sign: 'If you have to walk in the road because my sidewalk isn't clean, call the DOT.' "

 

It's like we never shoveled, Part 2

The Town of Oyster Bay Highway Department plowed our street but blocked my driveway with at least four feet of ice. They did the same thing last year, but sent a truck and cleaned it up. I called but was told they're not going to do that this year.

-- Marcel Marechal, North Massapequa

Marechal called us early Tuesday, concerned because he had to leave the house by 11. He expressed displeasure that the town "won't help senior citizens clear their driveways" of snow left by town plows.

"I'm pretty sure you'll hear more complaints like this," said Marechal, who is 80. We did.

We asked Oyster Bay Town if a policy had changed and, if so, why.

The answer: The town does not have a stated policy about clearing snow left in a plow's wake, spokesman Brian Devine said. The town is responsible for snow removal "curb to curb," he said.

"We do go above and beyond when we can," he said, when plowing results in a hardship such as blocked driveway, and residents can continue to ask for such help. "But we cannot send out a crew for every call we get," he said. "When we can, we will."

Marechal managed to get out of his driveway by 11; he hired someone with a plow to clear the snow the town had left.

 

Shoveling? What shoveling?

Many businesses on Hempstead Turnpike don't shovel the sidewalk, so my granddaughter has had to walk in the street to get to Sewanhaka High School. I've called county and state offices, but each one pushes me to another office.

-- Donna French, Elmont

Clearly, no one should have to walk on Hempstead Turnpike, one of the most dangerous roads on Long Island for pedestrians.

And Hempstead Town Code makes another thing clear: Property owners or occupants shall "keep the sidewalk in front of such lot or house free from obstruction by snow or ice and icy conditions . . ."

We asked the town what it would take to get those sidewalks cleared. On Wednesday, town spokesman Michael Deery said building department inspectors would visit the area and, if sidewalks hadn't been cleared, they could issue notices of violation and summonses.

Seven such notices were issued, Deery said Thursday morning, and French told us that sidewalks at a few of the businesses had been cleared by then. Luckily, her granddaughter, Destini Williams, didn't have to risk her well being on the ice walk; she managed to get a ride.

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