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Letter: Municipal snow citations could help problems

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Kevin Meyer


While my son was home from college over break, he and his roommates received a citation and clearing charge for snow on the sidewalk in front of the house they rent at school.

As a frustrated runner and walker in Columbus, it was refreshing for me to witness the actual enforcement of such ordinances, but I prepared myself to field the protests of a 22-year-old getting a real life lesson in citizenship.

I understand they dutifully shoveled all semester and nobody was there over break. Alas, we receive no “shoveling credits” for past efforts, and he should have made arrangements for someone to take care of his responsibilities to the community while he was away.

I also understand their flat is in a neighborhood several blocks from campus and relatively few people walk past their house.

Maintaining sidewalks for safe passage is the responsibility of every property owner (or tenant in this case) regardless of the number of people who actually use them.

I even understand that it wasn’t much snow and that it might melt soon. Or it might not. It might get packed down and become treacherously slick.

It might snow again and make the whole mess 100 times harder to clean up.

I’m proud to say my 22-year-old didn’t use any of these lame excuses. He knew he messed up and paid his fine (out of his own pocket) when he returned to school.

But since I didn’t get to share my snow shoveling thoughts with him, I decided to share them with you.

As I struggle to navigate the sidewalks of Columbus these days, I am astounded by the number of properties where the driveways are cleared edge to edge but the sidewalks are completely covered with snow and ice.

Some people even put an exclamation point on their bad behavior by piling the snow from their driveway onto the sidewalk. What kind of a friend or neighbor so obviously takes care of their own interests and ignores their responsibility to others? What goes through the head of a citizen as they deliberately add barriers to the community?

I would be remiss if I failed to point out that homeowners are not the only demographic worthy of shame on this matter.

Businesses, churches, schools and government agencies usually clear their parking lots and entryways within hours of the end of a storm, but I have seen piles on their public sidewalks that won’t disappear until spring.

Of course there are citizens who are physically incapable of maintaining their property in the winter, and it is up to us as friends and neighbors to help them out.

But the vast majority of impassable sidewalks in Columbus are owned by people, or organizations run by people, who obviously have the ability to maintain them and choose not to. Surely, a couple of rounds of municipal citations would help these folks expand their scope of concern.

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