ESSEX— The board of selectmen has agreed to investigate the option of town funded removal of snow from municipal sidewalks beginning next winter in lieu of pursuing a town ordinance that would require property owners to remove snow from abutting sidewalks.
The two-inch snowfall Wednesday morning, and a bigger snowfall on Dec. 29, led First Selectman Norman Needleman to raise the subject of sidewalk snow removal at the board’s Wednesday evening meeting. Essex, unlike Chester, does not have a town ordinance that requires property owners to remove snow from abutting sidewalks subject to a fine for non-compliance. The town considered adoption of a sidewalk snow removal ordinance over a decade ago, during the administration of former First Selectman Peter Webster, but the idea was dropped after questions about enforcement and a mixed response from residents at a public hearing.
Needleman said the options are to do nothing, to pursue town meeting approval of a sidewalk snow removal ordinance, or to have the town sponsor removal of snow from its eight miles of public sidewalk. Needleman said sidewalk snow removal could be handled by the town’s public works crew and private contractors paid by the town at an undetermined cost. He noted the expense would vary from winter to winter depending on snowfall, just as the cost varies for removal of snow and ice on town roads.
With support from the board, and no calls for an ordinance, Needleman agreed to investigate the cost. The selectmen will discuss sidewalk snow removal in the winter of 2013-2014 during the preparation of the town budget that begins next month.
In other business, the board approved an expenditure of $5,000 to allow the parks and recreation commission to pursue removal of weeds that are spreading at the former Clark’s Pond in Ivoryton. The former mill pond was altered, and made more shallow, after dams broke in the great flood of June 1982. The commission hopes the weed removal would improve the remaining pond for recreational use.