Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

November 29, 2013

Editorial: Address snow on downtown sidewalks

When you live in northern Lower Michigan, snow is part of the deal. In the past week we’ve been reminded, seemingly nonstop, that snow before Thanksgiving is often the norm; and as we’ll probably be reminded then, snow in March or even April is not out of the ordinary.

So a Traverse City ordinance that requires downtown merchants and property owners to clear snow from the sidewalks in front of and around their buildings makes perfect sense.

What doesn’t make sense — and in fact negates the whole point of the ordinance — is that there is no enforcement mechanism. So while some merchants get out there and dutifully shovel their walks when it snows, their work can be for nothing if the guy next door doesn’t shovel his stretch — with no penalty.

For the great majority of us, a little snow is a pain, not a problem. But for a lot of people, including the elderly or those who use a walker, cane or wheelchair to get around, that stretch of snowy or icy sidewalk can stop them cold. For many of them, getting to a store simply isn’t worth the possibility of taking a spill.

Having an ordinance the city can’t enforce is almost worse than having no ordinance at all. It’s a slap at those who put in the time and effort to keep their walks clear. And letting just a few store owners discourage people from shopping downtown as a whole makes no sense at all.

Ann Rogers and Grace Joppich, who have been agitating about snowy sidewalks downtown for more than 30 years, say that in addition to those who won’t shovel, problem areas include corners, some side streets and walks along parking lots, which sound like the city’s responsibility.

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case