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Westside Residents Coalition Call on City of Syracuse To Implement a Solution to Sidewalk Snow Management

In Government, Pedestrians, Public Infrastructure on February 23, 2015 at 3:58 pm

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Saturday, February 21, 2015 (Syracuse, NY)

Today, the Westside Residents Coalition (WRC) called on Syracuse CIty Council Members, including 2nd District Councilor Chad M. Ryan, and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, to implement a solution to sidewalk snow management.  The WRC is a grassroots effort of organizations and individuals of the Syracuse Westside working for the betterment of the neighborhood.

Karaline Rothwell, Co-Chair of the WRC and 2015 MLK Jr Unsung Heroes Award recipient, said “Grassroots efforts such as WestSideWalks (WSW) are great for building community empowerment and engagement, but are not long-term solutions to the snow management crisis; we need our elected officials to step up as leaders for everyone in Syracuse by developing and implementing a plan to ensure Syracuse is a walkable community year-round.”

As the snowiest major American city on record (with an average yearly snowfall of 126.3 inches according to Weather.com) Syracuse should have long ago figured out a solution to the sidewalk snow management puzzle. A history of stalling seems to permeate the elected official’s efforts, when our nearby Golden Snowball rival Rochester, NY has a sidewalk snow removal program in place that is a “A Partnership between the City and its Residents”.

With the Rochester program, the city provides supplemental service to help property owners clear their sidewalks during a substantial winter storm. Rochester is one of the few cities in the United States to provide this service to its residents, financed by an embellishment fee on property tax bills that is based on the front footage of a property

Many residents of the Near Westside (NWS) are struggling financially in these tough economic times following the The Great Recession of 2008 in which,  According to the Department of Labor, roughly 8.7 million jobs were shed from February 2008 – February 2010, and GDP contracted by 5.1%, making the Great Recession the worst since the Great Depression.

Many of the NWS residents rely on pedestrian based forms of transportation such as bus transit, bicycling, and walking because they cannot afford car ownership.

Local Social Entrepreneur Rick Destito, Owner of the Gear Factory, has taken to public shaming as a strategy to encourage businesses to shovel their walks.  The Facebook group “I don’t care about clearing my sidewalks of snow” provides a public digital space for sharing photos of offending businesses and property owners.  Destitio says “Think of this group site as community wide photo-journalism experiment for all of us who care about each other in the City of Syracuse, our kids, our elderly, and those of us who really do just love being able to live in walkable communities!!”

Organizer Frank Cetera, Co-Founder of the Alchemical Nursery, rides his bicycle to work from Otisco St to North Salina St year round.  “I’m forced to use a cut-through from W. Fayette St to Erie Blvd that crosses the railroad tracks, because the roads and sidewalks underneath the Fayette and Geddes railroad overpasses are so dangerous and rarely adequately cleared of snow.”

WestSideWalks is in its 3rd year of operations, and needs volunteers every Saturday from 11am-12:30pm, meeting at Brown Memorial Church, 228 Davis St).  WSW is also soliciting sponsors for its Saturday session such as the non-profit The Alchemical Nursery, which sponsored today’s event, and St. Joseph’s Hospital which has provided a donation to help cover community lunch costs following each shovelling outing.

The WRC has also implemented an Adopt-A-Trashcan program which will be looking for adopters to place a publicly accessible trashcan on their property once the snow season ends.

To volunteer or sponsor the WRC programs, contact:

Karaline Rothwell, 315-308-0439

https://www.facebook.com/westsideresidentscoalition

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