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City to issue snow-removal notices

February 21, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The City of Hagerstown will give people 24 hours to shovel their sidewalks or it will hire contractors to do the job at the property owner's cost, the city's chief code enforcement officer said Tuesday.

City officials intend to issue notices this morning, John Lestitian said. If the sidewalks aren't cleared in front of private property within 24 hours after the notice is posted, the owner will have to pay a $60 administrative fee, plus the cost of snow removal, he said.

The compacted ice on sidewalks will make its removal especially difficult, he said.

"It's going to take some work, even with the warmer temperatures," Lestitian said. "I don't think the charges will be small."

He said people who ignore two notices in the same winter season are subject to paying a $200 fine.

Owners and managers of downtown bars and restaurants gave the city's efforts mixed reviews, though most said they were satisfied when contacted Tuesday.

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Eric Renner, who lives just outside the city limits, was critical.

"This is a horrible situation, it's lucky that elderly people didn't fall down and get hurt," said Renner, who plodded through the snow and ice to attend a granddaugter's wedding Friday at the Washington County Courthouse.

Renner, 72, called the alley he walked through "an obstacle course."

The Grille at Park Circle pays a contractor to plow its parking lot, owner Bobby Ginsberg said.

The contractor also cleared some of the street parking spaces around the Virginia Avenue restaurant, Ginsberg said.

"As far as I can tell, the city did as much as it could for our restaurant," Ginsberg said.

While he conceded his job at Rocky's NY Pizza might not be as hard as the work of the city crews responsible for clearing the roads, manager Zach Myers expressed some frustration about delays in efforts to make the streets and sidewalks passable.

"All I can say is it took them like a week to plow the streets and walkways, and people aren't going to walk through snow and ice to get here," Myers said.

With no parking available, Myers said the Public Square pizzeria's customer traffic was hurt by the storm.

On Tuesday, Myers said business was improving.

The city has to clear the sidewalks that it owns before officials can start issuing notices to private property owners, Lestitian said.

City Public Works Director Eric Deike said that task was accomplished Tuesday.

Sidewalks are supposed to be cleared in Hagerstown's business district within four hours after a snowfall, he said. Outside of the business district, people have 10 hours to clear their sidewalks.

City crews have been working to remove ice from streets and sidewalks that last week's storm dumped on the area, he said. In some cases, the city is helping residents gain access from their driveways to the street.

Below-freezing temperatures have made removing the ice extremely difficult, he said.

"We have sufficient manpower to cover most storms," Deike said. "This (storm was) atypical."

Staff writer Karen Hanna contributed to this story.




ยท The Hagerstown Office of Community Affairs urges residents to use caution when they are walking on sidewalks to avoid ice and snow that could fall from buildings.

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