Salem official: Businesses, residents should clear sidewalks

SALEM – City Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said he’s hoping Mother Nature can help make the snow disappear, but he also reminded residents and businesses that sidewalks are their responsibility.

“Sidewalks are becoming an issue,” he told city council members Tuesday.

Kenst brought up the topic of snow during his report, saying the city crews were doing the best possible job they can with snow removal. This winter has been brutal for street departments trying to keep up with the snow and ice, which has been plentiful.

He said the city’s salt supply has stabilized, but the department continues to be cautious because there’s no way to know how many more storms will hit and whether the salt available will be enough.

Then he raised the topic of sidewalks and noted that city ordinance puts the responsibility for cleaning them on the property owners and occupants.

According to Chapter 521.06 of the Salem codified ordinances, under the heading Duty to Keep Sidewalks in Repair and Clean, “no owner or occupant of abutting lands shall fail to keep the sidewalks, curbs or gutters in repair and free from snow, ice or any nuisance.”

The offense is listed as a minor misdemeanor.

Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey commented that she shoveled her walk, but snow plowed from the intersection blocked the way to cross the street. Kenst said they understood that with the snow, then freezing rain and more snow, it was making some snow removal difficult. He said the warmer temperatures this week may take care of that.

Dickey asked if there was any plan for the city to clear those areas at the intersections if the snow does not melt. Kenst said they’ll likely work on something, but he also noted that he has a staff of six and said they can’t possibly do the whole town.

Councilman Rick Drummond reiterated what Kenst said about cleaning the sidewalks and said he also sees snow plow drivers from private companies pushing snow into the street, which is not permitted and makes it difficult for the city in trying to keep the streets clear.

In a related matter, Kenst said potholes are going to be popping up, but plowing is the priority with the snow. He said they ordered filling material and will be working on the potholes.