Champaign City Council may require snow removal

By Patrick Wade

The Champaign City Council considered an ordinance Tuesday night which could make the burden of snow removal fall on the shoulders of residents, landlords and business owners.

Citing the complexity of the issue, the council voted to reconsider the issue at a later date.

“There are some very serious safety matters involved,” Champaign resident Conrad Wetzel said. He added safety hazards become of particular concern at night when residents are forced to walk in the street.

The Urbana City Council considered a similar ordinance March 26 and, like Champaign, deferred the issue to a later date.

Currently, Champaign-Urbana is the only community with a Big Ten school that does not mandate its residents to remove snow from their own sidewalks, Champaign City Manager Steve Carter said. Additionally, the city surveyed 12 Illinois cities when they were researching the project, and all 12 of those cities require their residents to remove snow.

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Carter said the issue came to council after Champaign residents, University students and Chancellor Herman all expressed concerns that snowy sidewalks were becoming a safety hazard.

Vice President Internal of the Student Body Ariel Avila said he has had his own negative experience with uncleared sidewalks.

“I fell once,” Avila said. “I saw other people fall. It was sad to see people in wheelchairs who couldn’t get through the sidewalks because they were impassable.”

Avila said he has received many complaints from students that sidewalks were impassable.

At-large Councilmember Deborah Frank Feinen said she would rather see a public education effort for at least a year, using public television and newspapers to help citizens understand the importance of shoveling.

“I’m not a huge fan of legislating good behavior,” Dist. 4 Councilmember Marci Dodds said. She added, however, that requiring citizens to shovel might be the only way, because she believes a public education effort will likely be ineffective.

“I’m not concerned going from ‘please shovel’ to ‘pretty-please shovel’ will work,” she said.