Unshoveled Sidewalks: The Next Big Hazard from the 'Snowpocalypse'

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Marina Sheridan was pushing her baby stroller up the middle of a downtown Jersey City street Thursday--4 days after the Blizzard of 2010, and not too happy about it.

    "I'm like running down the road," Sheridan, formerly a Manhattan resident, said of her effort to protect her two year old daughter Ruby while making her way to a supermarket.

    Multiply that over and over across the region and you get an idea of what it is like to walk anywhere when many owners have yet to shovel some 20 to 30 inches of snow off the sidewalks in front of their properties.

    That is where Frank DeMaio comes in.

    The retired policeman and now Enforcement Officer for Jersey City is in his 'busy' mode now that the storm has passed, first issuing warnings, then writing summonses for unshoveled sidewalks.

    "There'll be no summons issued, just make a small path for people to pass," he yelled at one homeowner standing on her balcony in Jersey City's Greenville neighborhood, where a pile of snow in front of her home some four to five feet high forced pedestrians to walk into the snow-narrowed street.

    Sure enough, within minutes as NBCNewYork watched, the property owner was out on the sidewalk digging away, as was a neighbor who had also gotten a visit minutes earlier from DeMaio.

    "This was too much snow to do anything," complained Chandre Burgos in between scoops of her shovel.

    She then added "There is no where to put the snow but in the street" which in Jersey City, as well as most communities, is also illegal.

    She ended up piling it on top of a four foot high pile at the curb, which under city ordinance is fine as long as it is no more than three feet into the street(and they do not have to clear the entire sidewalk, just a path wide enough for a stroller free of snow and ice).

    While homeowners usually cooperate, the city has a bigger problem with absentee landlords downtown who own vacant property or old warehouses awaiting 'gentrification.'

    So DeMaio takes photos and mails them along with a summons to the owners.

    "They just don't care," he observed of many of them, who are repeat offenders storm after storm after storm.

    DeMaio and other enforcement officers issued warning tickets in the first couple of days, and now are switching to tickets.

    As of Thursday afternoon, well over 50 summonses had been written.

    Oh yes, the fine--$106 plus $33 in court costs.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY