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Massena mayor says property owners need to clear sidewalks

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MASSENA — Mayor James F. Hidy said he knows sidewalks around the village are in rough shape with multiple layers of snow and ice that have essentially “turned to concrete,” but he noted responsibility for sidewalk maintenance belongs to the adjacent property owners and not the village.

Sidewalk maintenance is mentioned in both state and local law.

“All sidewalks, walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces and similar areas shall be kept in a proper state of repair, and maintained free from hazardous conditions,” according to the state’s property maintenance code.

As for the village law, it reads, “All snow, ice and other obstruction upon any public sidewalk shall be removed for the length of the property frontage by the owner or occupant of the adjoining land as soon as possible following the cessation of snowfall or frozen precipitation. Whenever any such public sidewalk, or any part thereof, shall be coated with ice which cannot satisfactorily be removed, the owner and occupant of the premises abutting thereon shall as an alternative to said removal of the ice, cause such public sidewalks to be made safe and convenient for pedestrians by covering ice with sand or other suitable substances.”

Basically, Mr. Hidy said, that means, “Each business and resident is responsible for their own sidewalks. Although the village does try to maintain and clear them when we can, we do need the public’s help.”

Given the winter thus far, Mr. Hidy said, it has been impossible to get caught up on clearing sidewalks.

“We utilize people who have other responsibilities,” he said, noting village workers also are responsible for collecting trash, plowing and performing other maintenance.

Mr. Hidy said the task of clearing all of the village’s sidewalks would be monumental, as the department owns only two Bobcats.

“We can’t be accruing that kind of overtime. It would be burdensome for the taxpayers and it takes a toll on our employees,” he said. “When people get tired, that’s when accidents happen.”

“When I was a kid we looked at it as a way to make money,” he said. “We would go out and shovel our neighbors’ driveways and sidewalks. Unfortunately today’s kids don’t see that opportunity. I think they’ve been spoiled with all of these electronics.”

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