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Ogdensburg’s “leniency” towards people who don’t clear their sidewalks comes to a close

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After months of leniency Ogdensburg is preparing to crack down on businesses and homeowners who don’t keep their sidewalks free of snow.

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 summons to residents.

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

But now Mr. Pinkerton said enough is enough and its time for people to get up and dig out.

“We think that leniency was being abused,” Mr. Pinkerton 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 service employees 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 time 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, the department of public works will be informed of the problem and will issue their own time table after which they will come and clear the snow on their own.

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

Mr. Mallette said in a typical year they send out 12 letters to people who refuse to clear their sidewalks without encouragement from the city.

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