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University Neighborhood Partnership Committee helms sidewalk snow removal pilot program in University's east neighborhood

January 11, 2010

Jaime Winne Alvarez
(315) 443-3784

The University Neighborhood Partnership Committee (UNP), of which Syracuse University is a member, has worked with a local contractor to create a new sidewalk snow removal pilot program for a designated area of sidewalk (about 4.75 miles) in the neighborhood east of the SU campus. The goal of the program is to provide continuous snow removal on sidewalks—with highest quality service at lowest possible cost—to students, faculty, staff and community members living in the area who reside on critical pedestrian traffic routes. The program began Nov. 1 and runs through March 31. Landscapes Etc. of Cazenovia is the program contractor.

Called the University Neighborhood Consolidated Sidewalk Snow Removal Program, the pilot project was born out of a report the UNP put together last year to identify health and safety issues for the east neighborhood. The route designated for the project was determined by UNP and contingent on property owner participation. To get started, members of the UNP sent information to every property owner along the route and held a series of public meetings. The program route encompasses most of Euclid Avenue and Westcott Street, in addition to a handful of cross streets.

“This project is an exciting, experimental model that will be carefully reviewed by the UNP and local community to help further expand participation from the east neighborhood in the future,” says Beth Rougeux, associate vice president of government and community relations at SU. “It is the hope of the UNP and its members, including Syracuse University, that the sidewalk snow removal project could one day be expanded into other Syracuse neighborhoods. SU is proud to be engaged in the local community and the University neighborhood through its work with the UNP.”

The designated sidewalk snow removal area includes the following streets:

  • Harvard Place – even side of the 100-200 blocks
  • Westcott Avenue – even side of the 500-900 blocks and odd side of the 800-900 blocks
  • Euclid Avenue – both sides of the 300-800 blocks
  • Lancaster Avenue – both sides of the 800-900 blocks
  • Ackerman Avenue – both sides of the 800-900 blocks
  • Sumner Avenue – even side of the 700-800 blocks
  • Livingston Avenue – even side of the 800 block
  • Ostrom Avenue – odd side of the 700 block

The snow removal program entails the plowing of the entire route (up to 26 plows per season) once in a 24-hour period when snow accumulation reaches three inches or more. Plowing takes place between the hours of 2 and 8 a.m. Snow events that occur after the start of operation are cleared on the next plow, to avoid plowing during times of high pedestrian traffic. The contract price also includes moving snow banks back with a snow blower twice per season, if large amounts of snow accumulate without a thaw. The contract price was determined by Landscapes Etc. and divided evenly by the number of individual participating properties along the route. Property owners paid a lump sum per property.

Barbara Humphrey, a UNP member who worked to facilitate the snow removal project and is currently president of the Westcott East Neighborhood Association, works at SUNY Upstate Medical University and lives on the 800 block of Westcott Street. She walks along Euclid Avenue to and from work and also frequents the Westcott business district on evenings and weekends on foot. She says during previous winters, she typically shoveled her sidewalk in the morning before leaving for work and was often the only resident on her stretch of Westcott, other than the Westcott Community Center, who kept the sidewalk clear for pedestrians.

“There is a lot of traffic on Euclid during rush hour, and when the sidewalks are not cleared, it isn’t safe to walk in the roads. Clear sidewalks will definitely make the walk safer for me and others heading back and forth from the campuses and surrounding businesses and areas,” she says. “The big picture is that we hope a project like this could eventually be implemented city wide. A pedestrian is going to get seriously injured walking in the roads in this area due to unclear sidewalks, and it would be wonderful to get momentum for this project before that happens. My motivation for joining the project was not because I need the service. I am perfectly capable of shoveling my sidewalk, and enjoy the excuse for exercise in the winter, but I am committed to the neighborhood and to working together for the betterment of our community.”

“There are many groups with different needs and desires in the University’s east neighborhood, and unity has been an effort for this project,” says off-campus property owner Paul Walsh of Campus Side Apartments LLC. Walsh, also a UNP member, worked with Humphrey to make the pilot project possible.

“We hope that more property owners will participate in the program, in order to further enhance quality of life in the neighborhood. It is possible to reduce the cost of the program, per property owner, as a larger percentage of the route participates. Under 100 percent participation, costs could have been as low as $45 per property for the season,” Walsh says. “We have highly organized interest groups throughout the neighborhood, in addition to the academic and business communities. Their support has allowed for the feasibility of what we have done so far. It is not perfect, but this program is an example of how these various interests groups can enhance and improve quality of life issues in the University neighborhood in an equitable way for all residents through positive action and cooperation.”

Jon Perkins, president of Landscapes Etc., has created a website for the sidewalk snow removal program as a place for property owners to receive contractor feedback and periodic updates on the program. It is accessible by visiting http://www.landscapesetc.net and clicking on the icon at the bottom right-hand corner of the page. According to Perkins, his company also hopes to extend discounted services on driveway snowplowing, lawn care, yard clean-up, hauling and landscaping to participants in the program area. For more information, contact Landscapes Etc. at (315) 692-4679.

Property owners in the east neighborhood who have questions or concerns regarding the University Neighborhood Consolidated Sidewalk Snow Removal Program, or are interested in future participation, are encouraged to contact Landscapes Etc. for more information.

The UNP enhances the University-residential community and addresses the dynamics of the college neighborhood by providing a process for communication and constructive action. Membership is designed to create an integrated group organized to represent stakeholders. UNP members include representatives from the City of Syracuse; SU; the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry; SUNY Upstate Medical University; Le Moyne College; four landlords who own property within the South East University Neighborhood Association (SEUNA), Westcott East Neighborhood Association (WENA), Outer Comstock Neighborhood Association (OCNA) and Sherman Park Association; four permanent residents selected from the above neighborhood organizations; and four student members who live off campus, as selected by the individual educational institutions mentioned above.

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