Snow, Trash, Jobs and Raising Test Scores

This winter was particularly harsh. Cold temperatures, snow piled up on our streets as the Department of Public Works had to struggle with wind chill and multiple snow events. Our sidewalks virtually disappeared for months. Chatter online was focused on our commercial neighborhood centers and the responsibility of property owners to clean their sidewalks. Unfortunately, we’ve done a terrible job with snow removal as it relates to the vast walkways that lead from a small street to a neighborhood based retail cluster.

One of many snow covered bus stops, forcing people to walk on snow & ice covered roads.

One of many snow covered bus stops, forcing people to walk on snow & ice covered roads.

Until you’ve had to ride the bus or walk you’ll have no clue how vast the problem is. There have been attempts to ticket our way out, by writing tickets to those who don’t shovel. Sighting property owners for violations is the job of Code Enforcement, but with the number of rentals, absentee landlords, and people too feeble to shovel, we’re waging a losing battle.  There were attempts to involve Law Enforcement however, more ticketing is impractical and the Syracuse Common Council has rejected sic’ing the police on violators.

How do we solve this problem? How can we cleanup our city and keep it clean regardless of the season?

Syracuse needs to spend some of its Community Development Block Grant funds towards creating a company that would eventually be public/private whose sole intention is to keep Syracuse clean.

Those businesses in commercial districts can buy-in with contracts that insure their walks will be kept tidy and clean. Crews from the company will have the right equipment and personnel to work on each commercial center as a hub and work out into the neighborhoods. Property owners, renters can join in by paying a nominal fee to have their quality of life services.

We’ve spent millions on ventures that have yet to produce a kitten and yet we can’t figure out a way to creatively change our neighborhood quality of life, basic living conditions.

A number of small sidewalk sized plows can be purchased; costs would be shared with the customer.  Driveways re-clogged after D.P.W. has plowed you in, are crippling budget busters for the elderly who may pay a fee for their driveway to be cleared. Now, after the plow has come they can’t get out of the driveway.

We average over 120 inches of snow per season, you’d think we’d figure out a better way to maintain our sidewalks and pathways.

Our neighborhoods have to be involved in creating sustainable businesses that they can support. Using C.D.B.G. funds as seed money would be creative and will ultimately make our city more livable.

First priority jobs would go to parents of failing children in failing schools. If we empower a chronically unemployed family with a living wage job watch the test scores improve.