Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Greg Peck: Some folks need a primer on snow removal

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Greg Peck
November 24, 2015

I walked our dog again today in the predawn darkness, and I did so with strap-on cleats on my shoes.

Why? To avert the risk of falling.

I was impressed that only two of the dozens of homes I walk by on my mile morning walks with Molly were left unshoveled by 8 a.m. Sunday. One home appears vacant. The other is one where proper sidewalk clearing is always a hit-or-miss proposition. Doesn't every neighborhood have its problem property owners, those who ignore their shoveling responsibilities?

I realize I write about this subject every year and largely am “preaching to the choir.” And, yes, the snow is melting fast and—given the forecast—could be gone in a few days. But winter is just getting underway, so let me offer a primer on what you should be doing.

First, a Janesville ordinance requires you to clear your sidewalks within 12 hours of a snowfall. Besides that, not doing so is just discourteous.

Shoveling doesn't mean clearing a path as wide as your shovel or snowblower and letting Mother Nature melt the rest. Besides, if you don't clear the pavement edge to edge, your sidewalks are more susceptible to snowmelt refreezing into hazardous ice at night. Would you want someone to fall and get hurt on your sidewalks? Would you want to fight a lawsuit?

Also, if you shovel before the plows arrive and live on a corner, your job isn't done just by digging out the bottom of your driveway. You must clear sidewalk ramps at the corner, too.

Finally, did you know that if you don't shovel and someone complains to the city of Janesville and a crew comes to clear your sidewalks, you'll get billed at least $124? It's true. Police don't enforce the ordinance. Instead, if a resident calls the city to complain, an inspector will knock on the homeowner's door. If no one answers, the staffer will leave a door-hanger notice. If the sidewalks aren't cleared 24 hours later, a city crew will do the job and the property owner will get the hefty bill.

Incidentally, some of the same problems I described were evident downtown around noon Monday—slippery sidewalks, pavement not completely shoveled, piles at ramps leading to crosswalks. If downtown wants to be a pedestrian friendly environment, keeping sidewalks cleared in winter would be a good place to start.

How do you file a complaint? Call 608-755-3110 to start the city's enforcement process.



Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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