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Solution Needed For Snow-Covered Sidewalks

The snow-covered sidewalks in the city have caused many pedestrians – including Jamestown Public Schools students – to travel in the streets. While some property owners and tenants take shoveling their sidewalks seriously, others are either unable or unwilling to clear their walkways.

Able-bodied city residents should do their part to keep their sidewalks cleared, but what about the disabled and the elderly? Captain Robert F. Samuelson of the Jamestown Police Department recently told The Post-Journal police will not charge those who are unable to shovel their sidewalks. The city takes care of the downtown area, but the rest of Jamestown’s walkways must be maintained by local residents.

As Tim Mains, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, noted last week, the city can’t be responsible for plowing all of Jamestown’s sidewalks with the constant threat of budget cuts. That doesn’t mean the superintendent likes to see students traveling to school in the streets.

“I have actually stopped students (walking on the streets) and told them to walk on the sidewalk,” he told The Post-Journal. “(Because) even though (the snow) may be up to their knees, it’s safer than walking on the street.”

City officials should think outside of the box. A Syracuse councilor recently proposed a law that would have fined residents $50 for failing to shovel their sidewalks. The law didn’t receive the necessary support from officials or city residents, so Syracuse continues to struggle with unshoveled walkways.

Without exemptions for the elderly and disabled, a similar proposal would likely fail in Jamestown. Perhaps a partnership with the Welfare to Work program could help. While participation in the program has improved in recent years, Chautauqua County still hasn’t reached state standards.

As legislator Ron Lemon noted last month, keeping local residents off the system is easier said than done.

“We want to help people, but we’re going to hold them accountable,” he said.

Passing out some shovels and paychecks might be a good way to start. Area residents looking for work could earn some money and help their disabled or elderly neighbors in the process.

In an area blasted with snow, no solution will be perfect. However, Jamestown shouldn’t just accept the status quo when the safety of pedestrians is at risk.

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