Elgin won't require shoveling sidewalks for now
The city of Elgin won't be requiring residents to shovel sidewalks any time soon.
Mayor David Kaptain brought up the topic at the city council meeting Wednesday; he cited concerns raised last week at a meeting of the police department's neighborhood watch program, where participants said snowy sidewalks are a problem in Elgin. About half the 75 or so attendees raised their hands, Kaptain said, when he asked who would support requiring residents to shovel sidewalks adjacent to their properties.
The city council could consider crafting such an ordinance and enact it by next winter, he said.
"I know this is controversial," he said.
However, "We require people to cut their grass, and that's just an aesthetic thing," he said. "This is a safety issue."
But while council members agreed there are safety concerns, they also said they are leery of legislating the issue and enforcing punitive measures.
Councilman Rich Dunne said he fears senior residents and those with medical conditions who can't afford to hire someone to shovel would push themselves and possibly get hurt.
There are spots throughout town where city plows pile snow, which would make shoveling extremely difficult for anyone, Councilman Terry Gavin said. "Good idea, good intentions -- but unfortunately, not easy to execute," he said.
Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger said a public awareness campaign might be a good idea. Positive reinforcement might help, such as random prizes for those who shovel, Councilman John Prigge said. "Let's see if we can reward those who do, rather than punishing those who can't," he said.
Councilwoman Rose Martinez agreed with Kaptain, saying it's all about safety. In her job as a bus driver for Elgin Area School District U-46, she has seen children slip on snowy sidewalks and walk in the street to avoid trudging through the snow, she said, and has also seen elderly people fall.
It's also a safety issue for postal carriers, her former occupation, Martinez said. "A fall could cut their careers."
Some spots are especially treacherous, such as either side of Illinois Park School on McLean Boulevard, Kaptain said.
The city is leading by example by taking care of public sidewalks near parks and city buildings, Kaptain said.
"Take a look out your door and if you see kids struggling outside your house," Kaptain said, "maybe you should consider doing a little work."