Last week’s winter weather left streets and sidewalks in Flandreau slick and snowy.
It was the kind of extended snow, blowing snow and below zero temperatures weather that makes for extended cleanup, said Jeff Pederson, city administrator.
“The streets have snow and ice pack on them. The weather has not been conducive to the streets clearing up,” he said. “Do we have a lot of unshoveled sidewalks out there? Yeah, we do.”
Last weekend’s warmer temperatures helped thaw the accumulation of about 10 days of harsh winter weather.
Several homeowners didn’t clear their sidewalks within the 72-hour permitted time under city ordinance, but with employees concentrating on priority areas, there aren’t enough workers to scoop sidewalks that are in violation, he said. On Friday, the city started posting notices on properties where snow had not been cleaned from sidewalks, giving owners a deadline of Monday to get the job done.
“We have an ordinance that gives an extra-long time to clear snow,” he said. “We’re not really geared up or staffed to enforce that as tightly as maybe what some folks would like.”
Under the city ordinance, homeowners who don’t remove snow from their sidewalks can face having the city do the job and billing the property owner or accessing their taxes for the costs.
If homeowners didn’t get their sidewalks cleared after the first snow recently, it became much more difficult to scoop them, he said.
“We did clean one sidewalk downtown. The old Pizza Ranch building. That’s going to be a fairly expensive thing,” Pederson said. It involved city employees’ time and hauling a piece of equipment downtown to help with the job. The snow was removed by the city because the sidewalk is in the downtown area and has a lot of foot traffic, he said.
The building is being renovated to be a Mexican market but is not yet open.
When sidewalks are not shoveled, often mail is not delivered as well. While postal carriers make every attempt to deliver, they are not asked to trudge through sidewalks full of snow, according to the local post office.
Although no one complained to the city about snow-packed sidewalks, that is an option. The city would attempt to contact the property owner, and if it didn’t get taken care of, would have the authority to go and shovel it, he said.
But the responsibility lies first with the property owner.
“That’s where it starts. If there are sidewalks that are not cleared, that’s sort of the direction people need to point the fingers, is with the residents,” Pederson said.