Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 10, 2014

EDITORIAL: Goshen council should discuss snow removal ordinance

Goshen News

---- — This week’s snowstorm has left us with two impressions: That Goshen residents rally around a problem to solve it; and the City Council should again discuss if the community needs a sidewalk shoveling ordinance. Both are tied together.

After the storm dropped 10 inches of snow on our community, bitter cold arrived. So it seemed like a good decision for Goshen residents to hunker down inside and ride out the cold and snow. The problem that good sense created was that many of our city sidewalks have not been cleared of snow.

On Tuesday, school officials said they would cancel school for a third day on Wednesday, in part because sidewalks around schools were not shoveled. They called for volunteers to clear sidewalks near schools so children could safely walk to them. And to the relief of many Goshen parents, school reopened Thursday after a two-hour delay.

UNFORTUNATELY, this is not the first time school and city officials have had to call on volunteers to clear sidewalks after a snowstorm. This leads us to believe there is more going on than just cold keeping residents inside.

It is the responsibility of every property owner to clear their sidewalks, including the one in front of their home along the street, of snow. This responsibility is similar to having to keep the grass mowed and the leaves raked.

A couple of times in past years the City Council has talked about passing a snow-shoveling ordinance. We are not fond of creating anymore local laws, but there seems to be a continuing problem in the community with getting snow removed from sidewalks. This is a dangerous situation as children walking to school have to walk in the streets to get around sections of deep snow.

THE ONLY OPTION we see to a shoveling ordinance is for the city government to finance the purchase of a fleet of motorized snowblowers to be used to clear the walks. That means the city government would have to assume the responsibility of snow removal on walks and re-direct manpower during and after storms to keep walks clear. We don’t think this is a viable option as city government is struggling to finance current staff levels and the manpower available is needed to operate snowplows.

The best option is for local residents to step up and keep their walks cleared. History has shown that is not a widespread tradition in Goshen. So, we think the council members should again talk about an ordinance and if it would have a positive impact on getting the city’s sidewalks cleared after a storm.