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West Hartford Police Will Begin Ticketing for Unshoveled Sidewalks Beginning Wednesday

Students at West Hartford Public Schools returned to class Tuesday, as drivers navigated still-narrow roads. Schools have been closed for five days this academic year due to weather and the current plan is to add those days to the end of the year.

West Hartford Public Schools resumed classes on Tuesday morning, amid some concerns that narrow roads with disappearing lanes and unshoveled sidewalks would impact safety of the students.

"We really had no issues this morning. All things considered it was as smooth as somebody could reasonably expect," Assistant Superintendent Tom Moore said on Tuesday afternoon.

Moore's biggest concern was the walkways, he said. "We ask people to please clear your sidewalk so the kids can walk on it." The sidewalks that are part of school property are taken care of by school or town employees, but they are not able to clear sidewalks that are not party of school property.

Town Ordinance 115-24 requires sidewalks, as well as curb cuts, handicapped ramps, and bus stop pads, to be cleared within 12 hours of the end of a storm or 12 hours after sunrise, whichever is later. Because of the massive amount of snow that fell Friday into Saturday, residents were given extra leeway to clear the snow, but that will end Wednesday.

According to a news release received from the town on Monday, West Hartford Police Chief Tracey Gove said, "Police officers will begin issuing $79 tickets to residents who have not cleared their sidewalk by Wednesday, Feb. 13." Tickets will also be given to those who dump snow from sidewalks and driveways into the street.

Concerns about snow-covered sidewalks are being passed along to the police department, Moore said.

When he made the decision to reopen schools, Moore said he knew that conditions were not yet perfect. However, he said he considered, "Would it be safer tomorrow?" and the answer was that it probably wouldn't be. Most parents agreed with the decision, he said.

He said that there were a few delayed buses, but that was expected.

West Hartford has missed five days so far this school year: two for storm Sandy, one in January, and two resulting from the blizzard. As of now, Moore said, the last day of school is scheduled for June 24.

February break begins this weekend, and will not be impacted by the need to make up snow days. "If we had to we would do it in April, but that is not something I anticipate," Moore said.

laura reisner February 13, 2013 at 01:38 PM
What about the kids who were supposed to start camp on Monday the 23rd?????
maggie hart February 13, 2013 at 02:29 PM
To Scott Slifka and the Town Council, You have got to be kidding that the sidewalks have to be cleared by today, Wednesday !!!!! From this article in the Patch it sounds like the main reason the sidewalks have to be cleared is so the students can get to school safely. Other towns are keeping their schools closed for this reason : Hartford, New Britain, etc. It sounds like the town is putting all the responsibily of safety on the private citizens to keep the students safe. What am I paying my taxes for ??? And as a senior citizen it is impossible to find someone else to do the job. Their machines are broken from the overuse. Plus we are getting more snow tonight. Delia R. West Hartford resident for 49 years.
Ronni Newton February 13, 2013 at 03:12 PM
There are some areas of town that are worse than others, and the Boulevard/Whiting Lane area is one of those. I just joined a West Hartford Police officer on a regular tour of town checking out some of the areas where complaints have been filed, and that was definitely one of them.
Ronni Newton February 13, 2013 at 03:15 PM
It's not just for the schools, but for anyone using the sidewalks. I saw an older man standing in a main road waiting for a bus this morning because the sidewalk was not accessible. It is a town ordinance, as stated in the article, that the sidewalks should be plowed within 12 hours after snow has stopped falling or after sunrise, whichever is later. Unless a sidewalk is town property, it is legally the property owner's responsibility. Maybe we can find a youth group or other organization willing to volunteer and help those who can't shovel as a community service project.
free2be February 13, 2013 at 03:26 PM
The reason other towns have kept the schools closed is because the streets in those towns (and the school parking lots) haven't been cleared. West Hartford's roads are clear 100%. Kids need to be back to school if the roads are safe enough and the buses are accessible. I agree with the fine, and as a homeowner, it's your (our) responsibility to ensure that anyone can pass through your sidewalk safely.
maggie hart February 13, 2013 at 03:37 PM
It may be the homeowners responsibility to clear sidewalks BUT this is an unprecedented situation. Ask any judge.
VC February 13, 2013 at 03:45 PM
It's been five days since it stopped snowing, all sidewalks should be clear by now. It's amazing the same people who say they can't get their sidewalks clean after five days are probably the same people who are the first to complain when CL-P can't get their power back on after a major storm.
Jen Mooney February 13, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Shoveling your walkways (or lining up someone who can) immediately following a snowstorm is being kind to your neighbors :)
maggie hart February 13, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Looks like they are trying to line up the Boy Scouts for the older folks
laura reisner February 13, 2013 at 05:08 PM
The police are responsible for ticketing. Unfortunately it is up to the citizens to call them and make them aware .... They can't be everywhere. If you feel it is dangerous, then call... They have a routine number .
VC February 14, 2013 at 01:16 PM
Glenn Catania, I have lived in WH my entire life, I have paid my fair share in taxes, which I'm not sure why you bring that up because taxes don't cover the expense of clearing sidewalks because they are the homeowner's responsibility. After 5 days your sidewalk should be cleared period. There is no reason why after 5 days people as well as school children should have to walk in the street because you haven't cleared the sidewalk. Unfortunately the only thing that will make people will understand is a fine.

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