Council Addresses Sidewalk, Street Snow Issues

It was only fitting that on a night when snow flurries were in the air and unprecedented amounts of snow were on the ground, the Elgin City Council spent a good share of their hour-long meeting Monday night discussing the white stuff.

Having endured two major snowstorms during the month of December, Elgin looks like a winter wonderland. City crews have worked almost non-stop following the storms to make the streets passable and were commended for their efforts by Council President Mike Schmitt. 

Still, there remains some concerns about snow — where it’s being piled up and where it still remains on the ground.

City Police Chief Bob Moore said some intersections are becoming dangerous due to snow being piled up. In some cases, he said, people are having to pull out into the intersection to see if traffic is approaching before continuing on.

Moore and the council members all agreed that one intersection near St. Boniface Catholic Church is a major concern. Schmitt said he would address the situation in hopes that the snow can be moved to improve sight lines for motorists.

Another concern raised to City Hall came from a resident with concerns about a sidewalk being cleared on a property owned by a person who recently passed away. City Clerk Vicki Miller said a family member was contacted and the snow was cleared without any problems.

Council member Ken Jochum said it wouldn’t hurt to remind residents of the city statute regarding the maintenance of sidewalks.

The city statute states, “It shall be unlawful for the occupant of any lot or lots or the owner of any vacant lot or lots within the corporate limits to allow snow, sleet, mud, ice, or other substance to accumulate on the sidewalks or to permit any snow, sleet, ice, mud, or other substance to remain upon said sidewalk. All sidewalks within the business district shall be cleaned within five (5) hours after the cessation of a storm, unless the storm or fall of snow shall have taken place during the night, in which case the sidewalk shall be cleaned before twelve (12:00) o’clock noon the following day; provided, sidewalks within the residential areas of the Municipality shall be cleaned within twenty-four (24) hours after the cessation of the storm.”

Council member Shirley Nissen said for some residents in the community, moving the snow could be a financial hardship, particularly in areas where snow drifts as high as four feet cover the sidewalk.. She said in many cases, people don’t use the sidewalk anyway, preferring to walk in the street.

“I can support cleaning the business district, I don’t have a problem with that,” Nissen said.

Jochum responded that there are a number of people who are capable of clearing the sidewalks, but don’t do it.

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