New Castle News

February 19, 2010

‘IMPRACTICAL’: Mayor not eager to enforce snow ordinance

By John K. Manna

Unless a new snowfall occurred overnight, all sidewalks in New Castle should have been cleared of snow by today.

That is required under a city ordinance. However, many sidewalks still have snow remaining on them from a snowfall two weeks ago and subsequent winter storms.

While some property owners technically may be in violation of the ordinance, the city isn’t about to begin levying fines on them.

Under the ordinance, which was adopted in 1897, owners, tenants, occupants and anyone having charge or control of property in the city must clear their walkways of “all snow, ice, hail or sleet” within 10 working hours after those elements have fallen.

If any such precipitation falls overnight, then the walkways must be cleared or removed before 10 a.m. of the following day.

The ordinance calls for a fine of not more than $1,000 for anyone in violation. The penalty portion was adopted in 1988.

Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo calls the ordinance “impractical” because of the 10-hour requirement.

He said if people have the ability to clear the snow themselves, he welcomes it.

“I think it’s nice if they can do it.”

However, he added, “It would be difficult for us to enforce.

“I don’t think we’re in a position to enforce something like that. We have other responsibilities to take care of first. It would take all of our time.”

Mastrangelo noted that the elderly in particular have difficultly clearing their sidewalks.

He said he has someone who removes the snow from his own sidewalks.

“I’m lucky.”

As for weather-related injuries from people shoveling snow or falling on slick pavement, Jameson Hospital spokeswoman Barbara Bernardi said the emergency department has “stayed busy,” but the influx was “actually less during the big snow.”

Bernardi, a nurse executive, said she believes people stayed indoors because of the large volume of snow. For many people it was too deep to shovel.

“We didn’t see what we expected.”

With the warmer weather this week, she said, “we’re seeing a busier emergency department.”

She also noted that hospital officials are “very proud of the staff.” The engineering staff “did an awesome job” of keeping the grounds clear, Bernardi said.

(News staffer Carol Colaizzi contributed to this article.)