13 thoughts on “Residents May Become Responsible for Clearing Their Sidewalks of Snow and Ice

  1. Mike, can you please update the headline? There will be a meeting tonight, July 1, to discuss this topic. The government calendar was uploaded on Friday with this meeting notice:

    Town of New Canaan Town Council Bylaws & Ordinances Committee
    Town Meeting Room
    Monday, July 1, 2024
    7:00 P.M.
    Notice: This will be a hybrid meeting. Those wishing to participate in the meeting may attend in person or connect to Zoom, a web-based video conferencing tool, on their computers, tablets or phones, as follows:
    Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83930496987?pwd=hSTDbtMMOyaD9bqrxcwBaUDSCB3YWM.1 Meeting ID: 839 3049 6987 Passcode: 777849

    1. Sidewalk Snow and Ice Removal. Consideration of whether to shift responsibility for sidewalk snow and ice removal from the Town to abutting property owners.

    Why are we scheduling this important meeting during July 4th week when many residents are away?

  2. I love the opportunity here. There’s many entrepreneurial, young kids who would love the chance to make a few bucks, and plenty of volunteer groups with older kids who need service hours.

    • This is ridiculous. Clearing town-owned sidewalks should be a municipal service. What other town services should “entrepreneurial young kids” be doing? I can’t believe we are discussing this.

      • This is far from ridiculous. We are one of the few towns that still offer the service. In most other CT towns homeowners are responsible for the sidewalk in front of their homes and towns are responsible for public areas. This policy is not unique to CT either. We are definitely the outlier here.
        Phil offers an opportunity for younger kids to earn some extra money and perhaps build some work ethic as well. I think it’s a great way for kids to learn how to transact with adults, other than parents providing allowances. It’s what I did as a child, but if you don’t think your kids should, if you have them, they do not need to participate. Phil does not suggest that kids do other town duties, but shoveling snow is something even a 11- or 12-year-old could handle.

  3. How ironic that the timing of this suggestion coincided almost perfectly with the arrival of our property tax bills. The installation of the sidewalks was very contentious at the outset but the opposition was overruled. Little did we know what was awaiting us all these years later. “My” sidewalk is on Main Street and my driveway opens onto it. No need to elaborate on the implications of that. See you tonight at the meeting.

  4. Sidewalks make it much safer for pedestrians to walk our streets. The sidewalks we have are heavily used. There is high demand for new sidewalks and the biggest impediment to the creation of new sidewalks is the expense incurred by the town to clear the snow from them. Most places that have extensive sidewalk infrastructure make the property owners responsible for snow removal.

    • I always understood that there is no town money, it’s taxpayers’ money. And the priorities of the taxpayers are what our taxes should go to.

      If there is high demand and high use of sidewalks, then taxpayer dollars should be budgeted to build and maintain them.

    • Back in 2008, when the Main Street sidewalks were expanded, one of the concerns that the impacted residents had was the responsibility of snow and ice clean-up of the then proposed sidewalks. At that time the town agreed to be responsible for the snow clearing of those sidewalks because they viewed those sidewalks as town-wide benefit. As expected, today, the sidewalks are enjoyed by many, not just the people living in the homes that they abut. If the town sees sidewalks as a benefit for all residents then the town should budget for them accordingly. Requiring a small group of in town residents to provide a gratis service for an initiative that the town views as a community priority is an unreasonable solution.

  5. I am reading the letters about snow shoveling with a smile on my face. We moved to New Canaan 6 years ago after living in Wisconsin for 44 years. Believe me, we shoveled a LOT of snow. In addition, we were too naive when we bought our one and only house to realize that a corner lot involved twice the shoveling. Nearly every town puts the responsibility for shoveling on the homeowner, and I agree with that.

  6. I have been walking with a four-wheel walker for some years. When the town plows certain sidewalks that I walked along to the train station, the plowed area wasn’t as wide as the walker, so I was forced over into the street, which was plowed. One morning I was picked up by a resident driving back from buying breakfast sandwiches. He not only carried me to the train station, but he shared one of the hot sandwiches he’d picked up. Another morning the sidewalks along Elm Street had iced over, forcing me into Elm Street. A Town policeman drove me to the train station. I don’t know how one writes an ordinance covering all the complications of living in New England.

  7. I am disappointed to hear that the Town is seeking to abdicate responsibility for snow removal from the sidewalks and I question the $2million in expected incremental maintenance costs.
    1. Snow and ice are far less common now than 15 years ago. How is it that snow removal costs so much when there are far fewer snow storms?
    2. As a resident, we receive so few town services. I am not on town water or sewer and I pay for garbage removal. Snow removal of the sidewalks is one of the few services that I benefit from.
    3. I presume the town will issue warnings or fines when residents do not remove the snow and ice.

  8. Unfortunately, inflation has hit us all and the cost of many of this town’s services has increased materially. This translates to higher taxes for us all, despite best efforts from our town bodies. Just some thoughts to consider when debating our sidewalk clearing policy.

    1) This policy is not the norm in most of our neighboring towns or in CT. The town is currently providing an expensive service few others provide.

    2) Although some would argue that a sidewalk network is a benefit for all citizenry, it does disproportionately benefit those within the network. Those who do not live within the sidewalk network are very unlikely to use 90% of the sidewalks in front of residential homes with any regularity, while those that live within the network likely benefit from it on a daily basis.

    3) At an estimated cost of an additional $2 million and assuming approximately 7,000 homes in New Canaan, we would each be paying almost $300 a year for this snow removal, on average. (this depends on your homes assessed value).

    4) As the large majority of other towns have this policy, we should be able to leverage others to formulate a policy on compliance, penalties etc.

    If this is the much more fiscally responsible and equitable outcome, then we should do our best to implement it. We know it’s possible.

    Personally, we would love to convenience of being in the sidewalk network and have no problem shoveling our walk if we get one. 🙂

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