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Ogdensburg vows to enforce sidewalk snow removal

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OGDENSBURG — After months of leniency, the city is preparing to crack down on businesses and homeowners who don’t keep their sidewalks clear.

City Manager John M. Pinkerton said the amount of ice this winter has made it tough for the Department of Public Works to keep even city-owned walkways clear, leading the city to hold off on sending out summonses to residents.

“This winter has been a bad winter,” City Code Enforcement Officer Gregg A. Mallette said, adding that the city has not sent summonses to anyone since the snow and ice really started building up toward the end of December.

But now, Mr. Pinkerton said, enough is enough, and it’s time for people to get up and dig out.

“We think that leniency was being abused,” he said. “You can at least get the snow off the ice.”

Mr. Pinkerton said it’s especially important to have sidewalks clear for delivery workers and postal carriers who are walking around the city regardless of how much snow is on the ground.

Enforcing the sidewalk-clearing law is done on a complaint basis, Mr. Pinkerton said, or when city employees see an issue.

When a violation is spotted, Mr. Mallette said, the first step taken by the city is to send a letter to the homeowner or business reminding them of their responsibility and asking them to have their sidewalk clear within a certain period.

“Most people will take care of it with an order to remedy,” Mr. Mallette said.

Mr. Pinkerton said, “It’s not trying to be punitive. We’re trying to be proactive.”

But if the first warning is ignored, rule-breakers can be summoned to City Court, where fines can be levied depending on the details of the case.

Once the summons has been issued, Mr. Mallette said, DPW will be informed of the problem and will issue its own deadline for clearing the walkways. If the job isn’t done by then, DPW will send workers to remove the snow.

If DPW has to do the work, however, the homeowner or business will have that expense added onto its taxes for the year, Mr. Pinkerton said. The charge is typically $45 per hour, with a minimum fee of $45.

In a typical year, Mr. Mallette said, the city has to send out letters to about 12 people who refuse to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice.

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