Wicked winter sparks change in Lafayette’s sidewalk shoveling policy

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LAFAYETTE, Ind. – “Lessons learned.” That’s the phrase we hear over and over again when talking about last winter. One central Indiana city is giving its residents more time to shovel sidewalks, but it comes with a catch. The city will beef up its enforcement.

“It was bad,” said Lafayette resident Gerry Beck.

Last winter is a distant memory for Gerry Beck, a season he’d like to forget. A band of neighbors kept the sidewalks on his Lafayette street clear.

“We take pretty good care of each other. We have a lot of snow blowers on this street,” he said.

Those snow blowers had to move fast. Lafayette’s old city ordinance required snow to be shoveled from the sidewalks six hours after it quit snowing.

“It was a little hard to enforce, and we didn’t feel so good about it. Six hours is hard to do,” said Tony Roswarski, Lafayette Mayor.

Roswarski asked the city’s Common Council to approve a change Monday night, and they did. Residents now have 12 daylight hours to clear the snow, extra time but not extra favor.

“We wanted to make it so it was more fair and more reasonable. Then, on the flip side of that we’re going to be a bit more strict now,” said Roswarski.

The fine in Lafayette will be $50. Roswarski said residents will still get a first notice before they are fined.

Still, with Lafayette’s change, FOX59 wondered if Indy’s Department of Public Works was re-evaluating its sidewalk shoveling policy.

“We like to put education ahead of enforcement,” said Scott Manning, with the Department of Public Works.

Manning said many residents last winter in Indianapolis were not even aware the city had a sidewalk shoveling policy. The agency is trying to teach.

If the snow stops in Indianapolis after 7 p.m, you have until 9 a.m. the next morning to clear the sidewalk. If the snow stops after 9 a.m, you have until 7 p.m. that night to clear the sidewalk.

Manning said DPW added a special tab on the website this year, specifically dealing with sidewalks. It spells out the city’s policies, even with pictures of what a clear sidewalk should look like.

Manning said it’s a takeaway from a winter for the record books.

“It was a learning experience for the city. It was a learning experience for those property owners in keeping those sidewalks clear,” he said.

Failure to shovel sidewalks in Indianapolis can result in a $50 fine, though it is loosely enforced. DPW said most people will clear their property once it’s brought to their attention.

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