Urbana prepares to handle next winter’s snow removal

By Patrick Wade

The Urbana City Council discussed Monday night how the city will handle sidewalk snow removal next winter.

Although the council considered the practicality of the city bearing the burden, the discussion included possibly mandating that private homeowners and landlords must shovel their sidewalks.

The council also discussed possibly collaborating with the University to help remove snow from Urbana sidewalks.

According to a report to the council, at least 197 Chicagoland communities currently require their citizens to remove sidewalk snow on their properties. The Champaign-Urbana area is the only community with a Big Ten school that does not mandate its residents to remove snow.

“It’s really unsafe,” Urbana resident Amy Ando said. Ando walks her child to school and then walks to work herself. She said that she has had friends who have experienced severe compound fractures slipping on icy sidewalks.

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Ward 7 Councilmember Lynne Barnes said that she could not imagine adding this service to the city’s budget. According to the report, it would cost the city $120,000 to $185,000 to clear snow during large storms. The service would also require the city to purchase snow plows to clear the snow, which could cost as much as $60,000 per vehicle.

“We don’t have the personnel to get out and do the work,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Charlie Smyth. He added that the only way he could see the city being capable of providing the service would be contracting outside help.

Ward 3 Councilmember Robert Lewis said a “good neighbor policy” would have to be implemented by citizens should the city require residents to move snow on their property. Some Urbana residents are not physically capable of moving snow, especially in large storms, and would need the help of their neighbors to get the job done.

The council did not take any action on the issue Monday night, and will open it to public forum in future neighborhood safety meetings.

“I think we should just work it out and be ready for next winter,” said Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing.