Breckenridge seeks safer sidewalks this winter with business owners’ help
Winter is coming.
And so are snow, ice and slippery sidewalks.
Breckenridge town staffers were ready to implement a new ordinance fining businesses and property owners in the downtown Main Street district for not clearing snow buildup during peak business hours. However, the majority of the town council is not ready to take such punitive measures.
“We’re developing a plan where we don’t take heavy equipment through the center of town at certain times,” said Tom Daugherty, public works director. “And at certain times it will require the business and property owners to take care of their area.
“In order to encourage property owners to take care of their area we need to change the ordinance.”
He argued that plowing sidewalks is very difficult between the times of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. due to heavy pedestrian traffic.
Town employees now plan to plow the sidewalks on Main Street, the 100 and 200 south blocks of Ridge Street and the connections between these areas on Lincoln, Washington and Adams prior to 8 a.m.
In the proposed ordinance, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., property owners and occupants of properties adjacent to public sidewalks in these areas would be responsible for removing the snow. This would need to be done by noon every day if snowfall had accumulated on the walkways. The property owners would be able to pile the snow in the street or the area between the street and sidewalk.
Meanwhile, the town will continue plowing the sidewalks after 8 p.m. Staffing dedicated to snow plowing will remain the same as in years past, but shift times will change to support the new plan. Also, for properties it owns, the town will send out small fleets of municipal employees to shovel those areas that are in the new downtown sidewalk snow district.
“Before 8 a.m. we will go out, and after 8 p.m. we will go out again,” Daugherty said. “We’re asking that they help us out when we can’t get down there. It’s just like you shoveling your driveway so it doesn’t build up and get packed down. These business owners need to do the same thing on their sidewalks … We need a new ordinance to make this work.”
The current ordinance gives property owners 18 hours after a heavy snowfall to remove sidewalk buildup. But this has posed numerous hazards for pedestrians, especially those with handicaps.
“This ordinance is common sense,” said Councilman Ben Brewer. “This is something we’ve been talking about for years. The experience for people now is you have to walk over a pile of snow, then there’s a clean space, then there’s more snow and you might slip.”
But Brewer seemed to be the only council member on board with implementing the ordinance as presented by town staff at this time.
“What would be the consequences if you didn’t remove the snow in front of your business by noon?” asked Councilwoman Erin Gigliello.
Daugherty suggested a fine system be put in place to enforce the new ordinance, but a majority of council disagreed.
“Maybe we should start educating first and explaining why it is good for businesses to clean up their sidewalks rather than impose a heavy-duty ordinance,” Gigliello replied. “This sounds like ‘clean off you sidewalk or else.’ I agree with this, but maybe we should take a slower approach.”
“I agree with the softer approach,” said Councilman Gary Gallagher. “We can do this in two steps. If it’s not working we can go back and put the fining system into the ordinance.”
Mayor pro tem Mark Burke even suggested handing out free snow shovels in an effort to persuade businesses to shovel their sidewalks when the town’s equipment can’t get down there.
“I think it would send a strong message,” he said.
If the educational tactic doesn’t work at first, he added the council can always pass an ordinance in December to implement fines into it.
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