Oswego Looks To Amend Snow Removal Ordinance

OSWEGO, NY – The first flakes of lake effect snow have yet to fall on the Port City. However, there was a flurry of activity Monday night as members of the Common Council discussed possible changes to the city’s snow removal ordinance.

At Monday’s meeting of the Administrative Services Committee, Alderman Ron Kaplewicz requested discussion regarding the revisions to the ordinance.

Currently, the ordinance states residents must clear snow from their sidewalks “by 10 a.m. of every day that any snow … may be upon same.”

This has been a hardship to some residents – most recently those who live in areas, such as parts of West Fifth Street near Oswego Middle School, where the side walks abut the street and frequent snowplowing activity by the city makes it nearly impossible to keep the sidewalks clear of snow and slush.

Kaplewicz chaired a sub-committee that examined how to make the ordinance more efficient and fair to all involved.

“We talked long and hard about how we were going to do this. We targeted those folks that have a hardship with a respect to shoveling especially those places where the curbs are located immediately adjacent to the sidewalks,” he explained.

He suggested changing the 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to make things easier for homeowners.

That way folks won’t have to get up at 4 a.m. to shovel their sidewalks after a heavy overnight snowfall, he noted. This would allow them to come home after the city has done its job and clear their walks without having to worry about a city snowplow going by and filling everything back in again, he explained.

The current ordinance also talks about clearing the sidewalk from side to side.

Kaplewicz proposed changing that to a path of at least 30 inches wide, as in ordinances in some other communities.

Councilor Shawn Walker questioned that. He pointed out that people pushing baby strollers would find it difficult to navigate such a narrow path.

“Carriages, strollers, you won’t get them down the sidewalk,” he said.

In the event of a snow emergency being declared, the ordinance will be suspended until such time that the snow emergency is declared ended.

Code enforcement is working on an educational piece to inform the residents about the ordinance, the alderman said.

“It’s an educational piece that other communities have developed as well,” he said.

They are also attempting to develop a list of groups and organizations that are available to help those in need with snow removal, he added. He also urged neighbors to help neighbors.

“There are going to be places where things are going to be awkward. We’re going to have to figure some things out,” Kaplewicz said. “I’m not sure there is any one perfect answer for any one particular community. No matter what we do, we’re going to have some concerns somehow some way.”

“We have to try to do something, right or wrong. If we’re wrong, we’ll fix it,” he continued. “But, we have to do something. This has been a nagging issue for years.”

The committee approved putting the suggestions into the form of a proposed amendment; at the council’s next meeting, it will set a public hearing on the issue. Then in two weeks after that, they will vote on the amendment.

1 Comment

  1. The ice that accumulates when a sidewalk immediately abuts the road is an issue for more than the 7th Ward. There are many parts of the City in which the sidewalks have no snow storage areas (sidewalk/then grass/then curb/then roadway).

    Oswego is a City in the northeast that gets a LOT of snow. Sometimes there is nowhere to put snow after several days of snowfall.

    Further, it seems as if many of the more affluent businesses aren’t shoveling more than a path to their doorways, leaving the rest of their property without a walkway for residents. There are many, many residents who winter elsewhere and their properties are not managed during winter. IF we don’t cite these folks, why are we harassing those that are forced to remain here because they cannot afford to have two residences?

    My thinking is, if you ticket any, you ticket all. Or none. Help those that need help, especially seniors or those with handicaps.

    Or give up on the enforcement of this issue, since so many are not cited at all.
    OR, take a walking tour of neighborhoods in winter and see why some are bothered, and many more are not.

    A resident who walks her dogs and has to walk in the road a lot, but would never judge because it is hard work, heart attack work, to shovel ice coated road snow in Oswego winters.

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