Change to Massena sidewalk code passes, draws public concern about window to remove debris, snow
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 8:19 pm


MASSENA — A local law changing the village code requiring property owners to keep their sidewalks clear of all hazardous debris drew concern from members of the public that it could have a negative effect on people unable to perform the task.

On Tuesday, the village board voted 3-0 to amend the existing village code definition.

The law passed on Tuesday expands the code to require owners to get rid of any “snow, dirt, ice, brush, limbs, grass and any other material considered a hazard by the Superintendent of Public Works” within 24 hours of a weather event.

Several residents who spoke said the 24-hour timeframe just isn’t possible for some.

“My husband and I both have heart issues … it would be a hardship … to clear that off, and the people on the hill with no sidewalks are not required to do any of that maintenance” “It’s putting an undue burden on us or things we didn’t ask for, nor do we want,” said Massena resident Margaret Demo.

“I agree with Margaret 110 percent. You’ve got more elders in this town than young people,” resident Doris Robinson said.

“I can’t put a fence on that sidewalk and keep people off of it. It’s public property, it’s a right of way” “It should be the village responsibility,” resident Bruce McDonald said.

“I agree with all of them … I clean off my sidewalk. It’s not an easy task and it takes a lot of time,” resident Clayton Plourde said.

Deputy Mayor Matt Lebire, who ran the meeting in Currier’s absence, said the village would help people who are not able to keep their sidewalks cleared.

“That’s why we take the time to work with someone who may haven’t removed the snow in 24 hours,” he said in response to a question about whether the DPW would deploy the sidewalk plow to help someone.

“Please don’t misinterpret this. This isn’t the village trying to do an ‘A-ha, I gotcha!’’’ he later said.

Trustee Francis Carvel said the code was changed not so much to put more enforcement on snow removal.

“It’s like if someone pulled a stump out of their yard and put it in the sidewalk and left it there … put out a big pile of brush,” he said.

The village DPW has a sidewalk plow, and Carvel said he wants to see them keep using it.

“One thing I don’t want this to do is end up where the village is no longer plowing sidewalks,” Carvel said. “Many people are snowbirds, they take off now and they’re not returning until the snow is gone.

“The Post Office is not delivering mail if there’s too much snow … we have the equipment to remove it.”

Trustee Albert Deshaies, who later voted in favor of the code changes, said he thinks there should be a penalty for violations spelled out in the new code, and there isn’t.

“Gotta put it written down. If you’re going to make a rule, make sure you’ve got a penalty to go with it or don’t make it at all. Simple as that,” he said.

Mayor Tim Currier was excused from the meeting to coach basketball. Trustee Tim Ahlfeld, a New York Power Authority employee, was excused for work.