City councilmen seek solutions for snowy sidewalks

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Five Fort Wayne city councilman met Thursday morning to discuss snowy sidewalks in the city.

The newly-formed snow removal task force is seeking solutions to make sure snow isn’t piled in handicapped parking spaces and sidewalks are clear around schools.

A Fort Wayne ordinance requires people responsible for a property to have the sidewalk cleared from ice and snow by 9 a.m. and keep it clean throughout the day. Violators can face a daily fine of up to $2,500. That law was last revised in 1974.

City councilmen Geoff Paddock, Russ Jehl, Marty Bender, Tom Smith and John Shoaff make up the snow removal task force.

“With how severe this winter has been, there should be some lessons for us to learn,” Jehl, the councilman for District 2, said. “We’re trying to support public safety and neighborhood associations. Is there anything practical we can do in those areas? Like keeping sidewalks cleared around schools so kids aren’t walking in the streets.”

Issues brought up for trying to regulate snow removal in the area surrounding schools included people who are elderly or disabled and not able to shovel their walks.

“How many blocks to you include? How deep does the snow have to be. What if the city plow comes by and sends the snow right back on what you did? The homeowners aren’t there or they are rental properties, what do you do? This is tough stuff,” Councilman Smith, who represents the 1st District, said.

Other main areas of concerns initially are snow piles in handicapped parking spots and snow on bridge walkways and bus stops.

“We’ll see if we can thread some needles and come up with something that is sensible, enforceable and something people can understand and accept. See if we can narrow something down and bring something into focus that’s doable and begins to make some difference that helps a little bit,” Smith said.

Any ideas for changes to the ordinance or other proposals would still have to go through the normal procedures in the full city council meetings.

A solution is still in the very early stages of discussion, according to the task force.

The task force will met again in two weeks at 9 .m. on March 20  in Room 30 in Citizens Square.

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