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Hidy: Responsibility for sidewalk maintenance falls to property owners

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MASSENA - Mayor James F. Hidy said he knows sidewalks around the village are in rough shape with multiple layers of snow and ice that have essentially “turned to concrete,” but he noted responsibility for sidewalk maintenance belongs to the adjacent property owners and not the village.

The responsibility for sidewalk maintenance is something that is mentioned in both state and local law.

“All sidewalks, walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces and similar areas shall be kept in a proper state of repair, and maintained free from hazardous conditions,” according to the state’s property maintenance code.

As for the village law, itt reads, “All snow, ice and other obstruction upon any public sidewalk shall be removed for the length of the property frontage by the owner or occupant of the adjoining land as soon as possible following the cessation of snowfall or frozen precipitation. Whenever any such public sidewalk, or any part thereof, shall be coated with ice which cannot satisfactorily be removed, the owner and occupant of the premises abutting thereon shall as an alternative to said removal of the ice, cause such public sidewalks to be made safe and convenient for pedestrians by covering ice with sand or other suitable substances.”

Basically, Mr. Hidy said that means, “Each business and resident is responsible for their own sidewalks. Although the village does try to maintain and clear them when we can, we do need the public’s help.”

Given the winter thus far, Mr. Hidy said it has been impossible to get caught up on clearing sidewalks.

“We utilize people who have other responsibilities,” he said, noting village workers are also responsible for collecting trash, plowing and other routine maintenance.

Mr. Hidy said the task of clearing all of the village’s sidewalks would be monumental, as the department also owns only two Bobcats.

“We can’t be accruing that kind of overtime. It would be burdensome for the taxpayers and it takes a toll on our employees,” he said. “When people get tired, that’s when accidents happen.”

When asked how people should go about clearing their sidewalks, Mr. Hidy said that unfortunately he didn’t have the answer.

“When I was a kid we looked at is as a way to make money,” he said. “We would go out and shovel our neighbors’ driveways and sidewalks. Unfortunately today’s kids don’t see that opportunity. I think they’ve been spoiled with all of these electronics.”

Mr. Hidy said village crews are doing the best they can with the resources and time they have available.

“We’ve been going out and spreading sand when possible,” he said, noting the sand helps to make sidewalks that may be covered in snow or ice a little more passable.

“People just need to be patient and cautious,” he said.

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