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Borough clarifies guidelines on snow-removal ordinance

February 9, 2011

The snow piles aren’t too high for the moment in downtown Punxsutawney. Nick Vandamark is shown spreading salt onto the sidewalk on the Miller Brothers property along Mahoning Street. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — During Tuesday’s Public Safety meeting, Borough Manager Ben White reminded residents and property owners of an ordinance about clearing sidewalks.

The ordinance says that within 24 hours of a snow event, people are required to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks. If the ice is too thick to break, residents and business owners must put something down for traction.

White said Code Enforcement Officer Mary McHenry will be looking for safety hazards throughout winter.
There is also an ordinance about ice hanging from awnings and eaves on buildings that overlook public sidewalks and roads. White said property owners should address these issues during warmer months.

“It’s difficult, once the ice forms, to try and correct the situation,” he said. “There are some buildings in town that seem to have ongoing problems with hanging ice every winter.”

Also, committee Chairman Mike Porada said he received a complaint regarding the lack of snow removal from the sidewalk on the upper side of North Findley Street.

During the Public Works group discussed downtown snow removal before Groundhog Day.

Chairman Roger Steele said the effort went fairly well, with four Public Works employees working five-and-a-half hours at time-and-a-half. Including fuel costs, the effort cost about $1,000.

“Lacking that night was that Ben (White) couldn’t be everywhere with his trusty snow shovel pushing the snow into the parking stalls,” Steele said. “There were not enough independent people who have businesses or own property in the downtown to help push the snow onto the street.”

The Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce had contracted with an individual to push the snow into the parking stalls with a front loader, he said, but there were few private individuals to shovel snow back onto the stalls.

Steele said if a property or business owner was missed, he or she should check with the Chamber regarding a future snow removal effort.

White said McDonald’s chose not to participate in the snow removal because it has its own contractor for that task.

“Two or three days later, McDonald’s had its snow piles removed by its own contractor,” he said. “The next day, we had someone complain that the borough did not take the snow away from McDonald’s.”

White said he explained that it’s the property owners’ responsibility to push the snow into the stalls.

He also said that Chamber Executive Director Marlene Lellock assured him that during the next snow removal, there would be a Chamber representative or property owners to help.

White explained that he and the Public Works employees had to shovel the snow back onto the road instead of operating their equipment.

“I think it was an oversight on everybody’s part,” he said.

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