Letters: Slippery sidewalks pose a risk

Publisher’s note: The following are a series of letters to the editor regarding unshoveled sidewalks in heavily trafficked areas. They are published here in order of the date we received them, in reverse chronological order.

It was interesting to read the letters about shoveling snow (or not) largely because of what was missing. It’s not only students and seniors who have trouble walking in the snow; there are some people who do not own cars and have to get to the bus stop (or to work), and also dog walkers.

I’ve lived in Kent for almost 50 years and owned dogs the entire time, and can verify that it can be an incredible challenge to walk around a block. Driveways are often the worst since departing cars pack the snow down creating a solid mass of ice.

But I would also like to give a shout out to the neighbors who look out for others and shovel or blow the snow off the sidewalks for them. They are heroes in my book!

Andrea Shearer, Kent

I read the article from the out-of-towner in regards to shoveling snow off sidewalks. In Ohio it’s a slippery situation, and I do mean it literally. If one doesn’t clear a sidewalk of snow per a city ordinance as required, they will be fined. On the other hand if one does shovel the walk clear and a pedestrian falls and gets injured because of it, the homeowner is liable for damages and can be sued. This is what I meant by a slippery situation. You’re better off taking the fine by the city than a lawsuit. It’s cheaper in the long run.

Jim V., Aurora

I would like to address the letter to the editor by S. Svitak in Plano, Texas.

In this letter, Svitak indicated that the City of Kent should have a law making it mandatory that the citizens clean their sidewalks by midday after a snow fall.

Well, I recall a while back the city of Kent did have such a law or was trying to pass one. At that time, the citizens of Kent wisely opposed such a law. Can you imagine making an 85-year-old man, who is struggling to pay the taxes and survive on Social Security, shovel snow off the sidewalk so some 20-year-old college student could walk to the local bar? If the snow is so bad that a young person cannot walk through it, maybe he should stay home.

I say that if it is important enough to plow the roadways so people can get around, then let the city plow the sidewalks so people who do not drive can get around. And just in case you think this idea is far fetched, let me remind you that the City of Ravenna did it when Jones was the mayor. I am not sure if they still do or not. But a small-size tractor would drive down the sidewalks and plow off the snow.

J.H. Bullock, Rootstown

Silver Meadows is not the only dangerous area in Kent. I live across from the Alumni Building on Summit Street, and two of the three houses between me and Lincoln have unshoveled walks. I often have to walk in very busy Summit Street and simply hope that drivers go around me. I wish that the city would start fining property owners who are indifferent to the problem if students are too lazy to shovel. The two friends I have who walk around also have to use the streets a lot. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or killed, as Will Underwood noted.

Mim Jackson, Kent

I don’t live in Kent, but I get the Portager because my daughter does. I read the complaint about home owners and/or renters not clearing sidewalks. I am surprised that Kent does not a city ordinance requiring sidewalks to be cleared by midday. In every community I have ever lived where snow is a regular occurrence such a city ordinance exists. If it does exist, then enforcement should be requested. If it doesn’t then, concerned citizens should move to create an ordinance.

S. Svitak, Plano TX

The property owners along Silver Meadows Blvd in Kent are not clearing their sidewalks of snow. Children getting off the school bus have to walk in the road. It’s very dangerous. I urge them to do what’s right and clear their walks before a child is hurt or killed.

They are not the only offenders, but the stops along Silver Meadows are “cluster stops” at which several students—sometimes 10 or 12—get on and off at once. Impatient or inattentive drivers represent a hazard to children walking in the snowy, slippery road.

Will Underwood, Kent

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The Portager publishes a range of opinions from the community. To submit a letter to the editor, write to [email protected].

  1. To the Editor:

    I find it odd (most polite word I can come up with) that so many in Kent — businesses and residences alike — do not shovel snow from their walkways. Even as a displaced Southerner who grew up without having to shovel one bit of snow, I and my Yankee wife shovel the walkway, driveway, etc., for the obvious practical reasons, but also because other people may use the walkway, like your mail carrier, delivery personnel, etc. Perhaps my parents were odd in teaching me that no matter what it is I do in life, I am personally responsible for my actions and, like it or not, must accept the consequences of such. Perhaps the last decades have seen a massive rise in self-centeredness (and greed, and laziness), so people have changed, but that’s a different rant. Maintaining one’s sidewalk is simply the thing to do: the nice thing, the community thing, the neighborly thing, not to mention the reasonable and logical thing to do. One takes care of one’s property because it makes good sense.

    I also find it odd that people will not admit to or uptake basic, civic duties and obligations (read: patriotic; American; social-minded; morally correct; religiously savvy) unless some governmental agency tells them to do so. It is as if Kent is filled with 12-year olds who won’t shovel a walk, mow a yard, pick up a piece of trash in their own (or their neighbor’s) yard unless ‘Mom and Dad’ tell them to do it; it is as if those 12-year olds only live to stamp their feet and say “you can’t make me! I have the freedom to do nothing!” Beyond shameful. (And my sincere apologies to the actual 12-year olds out there who are responsible and considerate.)

    Irresponsibility and unsafe conditions, though, should simply not be tolerated. So akin to penalty for not maintaining a lawn, the City of Kent ought set a steep (pun intended) fee for snow removal, outsource all the work aside from record-keeping and billing to independent contractors, and let the city check off a few boxes: job creation! city-wide safety! promotion of walkable Kent!

    And FYI, slippage on an icy sidewalk is generally not a thing for which a home owner or renter is liable, but don’t believe me. Call your insurance agent and ask.

    And lastly, if you have an 85 year old neighbor who cannot shovel her or his own sidewalk, why don’t you do it? It’s neighborly. It’s good exercise. It’s a wonderful way to get your own 12-year old to understand civic responsibility.

    Myself, if I hear the city has decided to actually enforce Ordinance 521.15, and begins to request sidewalk snow removal from known contractors, I will submit a proposal to be responsible for a small segment of my neighborhood (mostly non-local rental houses), perhaps 2-3 blocks, and I’ll buy a nice, snowblower, and await the snow. I do believe $25 per square foot is reasonable, 60-percent for me, 40-percent for the City of Kent, yes? Win-win.

    Wishing for sunshine,

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