2011-01-28 / Columnists

East End Matters...

Be Neighborly - Clean Those Snow-covered Sidewalks
Commentary By Miriam Rosenberg

“Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person, having charge of any building or lot of ground in the city, abutting upon any street where the sidewalk is paved, shall, within four hours after the snow ceases to fall…”

That is the New York City law relating to the removal of snow, ice and dirt from the sidewalks in the five boroughs. Yet, not everyone seems to follow it. Why do I bring this up now? Because, the safety of your neighbors depends on the compliance with the law. Take it from someone who fell on ice in front of a building in Jamaica many years ago. The result of the fall was a broken wrist.

There are some places that, without fail, never bother to clean their streets. Here are a few in just one area of the east end. For instance, after a snowfall don’t try to walk on Seagirt Boulevard in front of the Maurice and Edith Mesivta High School located on Beach 17 Street and Seagirt Boulevard. While the owners do clean on the Beach 17 Street side of their building, the Seagirt Boulevard side is never cleared of the snow or ice – except for the driveways. On Tuesday pedestrians were still walking in the street because the snow and ice on the building’s Seagirt sidewalk had not yet been cleared away from the previous week’s storm. The best advice for that section of Seagirt, it’s best to walk on the other side of the street until the snow melts.

The street on Seagirt, in front of O’Donohue Park, is also another long stretch of sidewalk that never gets cleaned after a snow. I will say that the Parks Department did clean in front of the playing field after the last storm, but cleaning stopped where the renovations of the park begin. Parks, a city agency, should be more than aware of the law. Yet, it is this department that complained to the 101 Precinct recently about cars being parked on the median on Seagirt Boulevard during and after the last snowstorm. For as long as anyone can remember there has been parking on the median during snow emergencies. Allowing cars on the median in such circumstances keeps the vehicles off the streets so that snow removal can take place and gives those who live here a place to park when snow on the sides of the roads prevents parking. As one 55-year resident of the area put it at the 101 Precinct Community Council meeting this month, there’s been an unwritten understanding between the community and the precinct to allow the parking on the median during this type of weather.

As a matter of fact, Parks gets a double black mark. It is days after the last snowfall, yet the pathway at the Greenstreets between Beach 19 and 20 Streets was still not cleared of ice and snow on Tuesday morning. Yet, the street in front of the house next to the site is clean. That homeowner deserves a pat on the back. Parks, however, does not.

There are many other areas. Walk down New Haven Avenue starting on the corner of Beach 14 Street and head toward the Far Rockaway business. There are several streets covered with snow and ice in front of homes. As of last Wednesday, one week after the last snowstorm, the street in front of Congregation Darchei Torah on Heyson Road had not been cleaned.

Imagine being an elderly person with a long street of snow and ice between your home and the food store. What if you’re forced to walk in the street because the sidewalk has not been cleared, all the while fearing that a speeding car could hit you before he or she sees you? Walking in the street or standing in the gutter because you can’t get on the sidewalk is dangerous. If you’d rather take your chances on the icy sidewalk than walking in the gutter, that is just as dangerous. Either way it is a no win situation unless more people make the attempt to make sure their neighbors do not have to fear venturing out on the streets after a snow fall. In other words, for everyone’s benefit – clean those sidewalks.

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