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Where Are You, Mr. Plow?

Yorktown has a snow removal problem and just needs to enforce existing laws to remedy the situation. From seniors to children, it affects us all.

[This post originally appeared on Save Mohegan Lake. If you live within one of the seven home owner associations surrounding the lake, you may want to subscribe to the RSS feed or like it on facebook, or both.] 

Over the holidays, I found myself home alone for a couple days. No kids. No wife.  I took the opportunity to patronize a couple local eateries: Wild Fusion Asian Sushi Grill and Bar (winner of the 2012 award for longest restaurant name, ever), and Brodie's. The Winery was closed. I found out after I trudged through the snow for a snifter of wine.

Which brings me to my main point: snow removal is your friend. It's a friend of business because if walking to your establishment is an option, that's a good thing. As a consumer, I sure like that option too. Especially if parking is tight (route 6, I'm looking at you) and you can walk to a couple nearby businesses without moving your car.  Yorktown wisely, it would seem, put a local law on the books at the end of 2011. You can read the whole thing here on the Yorktown website. You can also see a map of the snow removal districts. A couple small, out of the way ones that appear in areas you wouldn't suspect, like camp Nabby.

The law reads, in part:

In a Snow Removal District within twelve 12 hours after a precipitation event has concluded, the owner and or occupant of premises abutting or bordering on paved sidewalks along a town street shall remove all snow and ice from such sidewalks or in the cases where the snow and ice on the sidewalks cannot be removed without injury to the sidewalks shall thoroughly cover the sidewalk with sand salt or other suitable material so as to make the sidewalk safe for public use.

"Precipitation event." Good stuff. But seriously, the Yorktown lawmakers had their hearts in the right place when they passed this legislation. I just wish they would take the next step and enforce it. Sometimes I feel like there's literally no enforcement around these parts.

We are left with a hot mess that is--ironically--cold and icy and incredibly hard to get rid of after--say--a 12 hour period. There is no foreseeable let up in the freezing temps.  You might think that I'm just a whiner, but I'm reminded of my mother who was taken too soon by cancer; she spent the last year or so in a wheelchair.  ADA accessibility is poor to begin with and snow and ice can literally make sidewalks impassable.  I can't imagine my pregnant wife traversing some of these areas with our 3 maniacal, but beautiful, children. 

What would I do to fix the problem, you ask? I would start by enforcing the law.  Issue a violation to a property or lease owner for non-compliance accompanied by a civil penalty.  Not a bad source of revenue, eh? Maybe owners just consider the fines the cost of doing business (e.g. FedEx absorbing parking fines). Maybe they actually shovel and salt their walks. I prefer the latter, but, if they don't comply there has to be a consequence.  Otherwise, just don't pass the law in the first place.  Remember, the law was enacted over a year ago. 

Landlord doesn't pay the fine? That's easy, the civil penalty becomes a judgement lien and sits on the title of the property. It's not rocket science. We could even go further and hire companies to clear the sidewalks of deadbeat owners and bill them back for this service.  Let's be reasonable and start small though. Baby steps. If only Yorktown had an employee(s) responsible for enforcing our laws. If only.

[note: all of the photos included were taken well past the 12 hour completion of this "precipitation event"--note the dry roads; to date (1/3/13), there are still sidewalks unshoveled/salted].

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Francis T McVetty January 05, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Just what we need, MORE town employees. It's nice to be well of isn't it, Evan? I guess you will foot the bill for the rest of us just getting by.
Evan Bray January 05, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Actually that's the opposite of what I'm saying, Mr. McVetty. I'm saying that if the town wanted, they could tell these commercial property or lease owners that they have to shovel and salt their walks or the town would have an standing contract with a local company that could perform that duty for them (if those chose not to do it themselves). I actually said that would be too much for Yorktown and we should take baby steps. Just issue violations to the owners and collect money. On paper, we actually pay a code enforcement officer. To be blunt, I'm just asking the town code enforcement to do his job. Write a violation that carries a civil penalty and we can just collect a fine (or put a lien on the property, if they don't pay). It's revenue for Yorktown using an employee we already pay for. Why are you against that?
Evan Bray January 05, 2013 at 10:56 PM
I can't imagine you be against enforcing existing laws. Right?
Evan Bray January 05, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Why pass the law in 2011 in the first place? The town board should save us the grandstanding, time and effort if they won't enforce the law. Let's be serious. Just don't pass the law if you have no intention to enforce it. It means NOTHING, in that case. It was just over a year ago they passed it. It's all the same board members, less the supervisor. No?
Evan Bray January 05, 2013 at 11:02 PM
So to answer your question, we already pay someone not to do their job. Yay!
James Bankhart January 05, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Who could we get to enforce the ordinance by issuing summonses . I guess the Police would be a place to start.
Evan Bray January 06, 2013 at 01:43 AM
No, the PD would be wasting resources if they had to enforce this type of law. We, apparently, have a code enforcement officer in the building department. I would love to know what--exactly--the town code enforcement officer does. What do we pay him for? It's not a bad thing to raise revenue, through enforcing ordinances like the snow removal law the TB passed (it's a good law and we already have a town employee tasked with enforcing the code. I'd like to know what Mr. Zeif does all day. I think it should include writing violations to dead-beat snow removal types for a nominal sum to maintain decorum and generate revenue. But what do I know? Jason Zeif, Code Enforcement Officer http://www.yorktownny.org/building

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