Bay Ridge official warns residents to shovel snow
Shovel your sidewalk! That’s the warning issued by a Bay Ridge official, who said some homeowners and merchants in the area have been falling down on the job and creating a public safety hazard this snowy winter.
Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10 (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights), said that while the city’s Department of Sanitation (DOS) gives homeowners and business owners time to clear snow off the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses after a storm, there are many residents who don’t bother to pick up a shovel.
At a recent Community Board 10 meeting, Beckmann urged property owners to shovel the snow.
The winter of 2014-2015 has been particularly harsh in terms of slippery sidewalks, Beckmann said.
“There have been many areas that were complained about including sidewalks that have not been shoveled,” she told board members at Feb. 23 meeting. “We reported many non-shoveled residential and commercial properties at the request of local residents.”
The city’s rules and regulations are quite clear, yet many property owners appear to be unfamiliar with their responsibilities, Beckmann said. “There are always jurisdictional questions that arise following a snowstorm,” she said.
Here are the rules in a nutshell: If snowfall ends between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., property owners must clear sidewalks within four hours; and if snowfall ends between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. property owners must clear sidewalks before 11 a.m.
“The city may issue property owners a summons for a failure to clear the sidewalks within these time frames,” Beckmann said.
DOS spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins told the Brooklyn Eagle via email on Monday that between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22 of 2015, the agency issued 3,386 summonses in Brooklyn for failure to shovel sidewalks.
In the Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights area, the majority of errant property owners are absentee landlords who own buildings in the community but do not reside here, Beckmann told the Eagle. “In Bay Ridge, usually people are good about looking out for their elderly neighbors and shoveling the sidewalks for them. In most of the cases where people don’t shovel, it’s an absentee property owner,” she said.
Meanwhile, where do you put the snow once you have shoveled? The DOS website, www.nyc.gov/dsny, advises residents not to throw snow into the street.
The website also states that if the snow or ice becomes frozen and cannot be removed, the property owner can resort to using snow-melting materials like sand or salt.
“The sidewalk must be thoroughly cleaned as soon as the weather permits. Please clear a path wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or double stroller,” the website instructions read.
In addition to slippery sidewalks, the Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights area has its share of potholes, Beckmann said. The potholes arise from the use of salt after snowstorms. “Salt is a wonderful compound to melt snow but it also causes many problems with street lighting and underground electricity,” Beckmann said.
And it’s not just streets that are affected by salt. “There are many streetlights that are compromised because of salt corroding wires. We have reported streetlights out in our area,” Beckmann said.
This year to date, have been 108 calls to 311 regarding inoperative street lights, she said.
The city’s Department of Transportation and has been working on filling pothole complaints made by residents calling the city’s 311 system, Beckmann said.
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