S yracuse property owners may soon face a $100 fine if they do not clear their sidewalks of snow.
Common Councilor Bob Dougherty is about to propose a new ordinance that would impose such a fine on property owners and businesses. Moments after a Monday morning storm dumped several inches of snow on Syracuse, Dougherty told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "I'm proposing putting in a $100 fine, as much as anything to get peoples attention. I don't care if we ever collect a nickel, I'd just like to get the sidewalks cleared."
Dougherty said Syracuse used to impose a $25 fine, but did away with it in 1964. He's working with the city's law department and Lieutenant Joseph Cecile of the Syracuse Police Department on legislation to resurrect the fine, which he says would be enforced by the police department's "Quality of Life" squad.
Dougherty says, "I hate to see kids having to walk in the street on their way to school, particularly elementary school-age kids who have no choice. I'd like to let people know it??s their responsibility to clear their sidewalks."
The city currently has an ordinance that requires property owners to clear their sidewalks by 6:00 p.m. the day after an accumulation, but Dougherty says the ordinance lacks teeth and enforcement.
North side resident Dawn Howard was forced to walk in the street because only a few of the sidewalks had been shoveled Monday morning. "I don't know about a $100 fine, but they've got to be told something." Howard said.
A few blocks away, Ronnie Rosario was clearing his sidewalk. "Sometimes when we shovel the snow, the plows come and all they do is throw the snow back onto the sidewalk. So how many times do you have to shovel to avoid a hundred dollar fine?" he asked.
Dougherty expects his proposed fine will spark a debate that would also look at ways to help elderly or disabled residents who may not be able to clear their sidewalks of heavy snow. He may propose that the city issue badges to people who could solicit residents to clear their sidewalks for a fee.
"I think we've looked at a lot of different ways to attack this and our usual solution is Spring." Dougherty joked.