The sound that heralds the beginning and the end of weekends these days is the sound of the little wheels of suitcases as visitors to Hudson make their way from the train station to their B and B and back again, their luggage in tow. Some folks walk on the sidewalk, but, owing to the inconsistent quality of our pedestrian walkways, many take to the street.
The state of the sidewalks in Hudson--uneven and deteriorated conditions and lack of uniformity--was one of the topics taken up by the Common Council Housing and Transportation Committee at its meeting last Wednesday. Only two members of the committee--Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), who chairs the committee, and Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward)--were present, so, lacking a quorum, no action could be taken. The action Garriga was hoping to take was to move the issue of sidewalks to the Legal Committee because, as she explained, "the problem will be addressed with laws." Chapter 266-4 A of the city code currently states: "The owner or occupant of any premises adjoining any street where a sidewalk has been laid shall keep the sidewalk on such street in good repair and free and clear of snow, ice, dirt and any other material or substance."
Garriga reported that she had spoken with the city attorney and planned to meet again with the city attorney and the code enforcement officer to discuss enforcing the code as it pertains to keeping sidewalks in good repair. She said enforcement would start on Warren Street. In a related action, Mayor Rick Rector has proposed putting $60,000 into the 2019 city budget as a kind of loan fund experiment for sidewalk repair on Warren Street--Warren Street being chosen for several reasons, one of which being that the sidewalks on Warren Street, totally redone fifteen or so years ago, are all cement. The plan is that code enforcement would issue citations to property owners for sidewalks in disrepair, and if the property owner did not or could not repair the sidewalk, it would be done by the City, drawing from the $60,000, and the expense would be charged back to the property owner in property taxes.
Merante brought up another sidewalk maintenance issue that will soon be upon us: snow removal. According to the code, Chapter 253-2, property owners on Warren Street must remove snow from sidewalks within 12 hours after a snowstorm; on all other streets, property owners have 24 hours to remove the snow. Merante reported that citations issued for failure to clear snow from sidewalks are often dismissed in court. He explained what the Village of Catskill does, which is appealing because it focuses on remedy rather than penalty. According to Merante, if a sidewalk in Catskill has not been cleared of snow within the required time, a crew is sent to shovel the snow and the property owner is charged $120--a charge that can be added to the owner's property tax. When it was brought up that DPW crews have enough to do after a snowstorm clearing the streets, Merante suggested that there could be a seasonal crew called in when needed for the sidewalk shoveling. It is yet to be seen if this suggestion, which seems like a good one, has legs.
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