Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Days

Snow Days

The Do's and Don'ts in Snow Removal

Father Richard F. Gorman
Community Board #12 (The Bronx)
“I will follow a set of deep tracks;
other people all stay hidden
as the cars rest under snow drifts.”
BRONX, NEW YORK, JANUARY 22- MATT POND PA is a New York-based band formed in Philadelphia by singer-songwriter Matt Pond. They have released a goodly number of
songs, some of which became “hits” and several of which have been used
in both films and television commercials, since 1998. Pond has been
the only consistent member of the group, although Chris Hansen is
considered to be the core member of the group. In the studio, they
often collaborate with other musicians, including former members, in
order to achieve their diverse instrumentation and expansive sound. In
recent years, Pond and Hansen have produced their recordings from a
cabin in Bearsville, New York. In November of 2010, their song quoted
above entitled "SNOW DAY" was featured in a commercial for STARBUCKS
for the java giant’s "BUY ONE HOLIDAY DRINK, GET ONE FREE" promotion
and seasonal beverage advertisements.
Although we have kept company with “Ole Man Winter” for approximately
a month’s time, we no doubt have severely felt his lash on a number of
occasions with some real Arctic-type weather conditions that he has
foisted upon us. In my last column, I addressed the bitterly cold
temperatures and offered some suggestions as to how we can remain safe
when the thermometer plummets. This time around, I should like to
remind all about some “do’s” and “don’ts” with regard to snow safety
and snow removal.
The most important “do” or responsibility when it comes to snow
removal is the obligation of a person in charge of any building or lot
--  be that individual the owner, occupant, or tenant  --  to clear
the sidewalk of snow and/or ice. Please note that there are specific
times designated for the fulfillment of this legal obligation. One
must clean the sidewalk no later than four hours after the snow has
stopped falling or by eleven o’clock in the morning if the snow/ice
was still coming down after nine o’clock (9:00 P.M.) the prior
Of course, one might legitimately and sensibly inquire if the
aforesaid duty remains in effect even if the snow or ice becomes so
frozen that it is literally impossible to remove.  The answer is that,
in such an instance, the responsible individual may spread sand, salt,
sawdust, cat litter that is clean and unused, or any other suitable
substance on sidewalk instead. However, it must be noted that the
aforementioned time limits still apply and remain in effect. It must
be further borne in mind that, as soon as the weather and other
conditions reasonably permit, the responsible party MUST have the
sidewalk thoroughly cleaned.
These prerequisites of law would appear, prima facie, to be both fair
and prudent.  Indeed, they are. They merely remind a conscientious
citizen of his/her obligations as a good neighbor. However, might it
be the case that one seeking to live up to this mandate might not be
able to justifiably undertake and realistically accomplish it?
Obviously, the response is YES! Does this excuse one, though, from
performance of one’s snow removal duty? The reply in this case is
conversely: “CERTAINLY NOT!” If one is ill, infirm, incapacitated or
elderly, the responsibility to clear the sidewalk remains in effect.
Such a person must then engage someone else to take care of matters
for him/her. Is this expectation perhaps too harsh or out of all
proportion? Such does not have to be the case. I shall return to this
point a tad further on.
Other stipulations relative to snow removal come under the “don’t”
category. These, to my mind, are a matter of simple self-interest and
basic prudence even more so than a matter of law. Regrettably, far too
many of our area residents  --  and I am particularly embarrassed to
report that there were many of my very own neighbors in Community
Board #12 (The Bronx) who are guilty in this regard  --  who
apparently are gravely lacking in knowledge, courtesy, compassion,
self-respect, respect for others, or a proper sense of civic pride and
duty because they DID  --  either in ignorance of information or
ignorance that indicates indifference and callousness  --  these
“DON’T’S,”  --  viz.”: covered and/or left snow-bound nearby fire
hydrants; threw snow back onto streets cleaned by our “STRONGEST,” the
men and the women of our New York City Department of Sanitation
(N.Y.C.D.O.S.); parked motor vehicles at an angle so as to encroach on
the roadway and consequently impede the safe flow of traffic.
To these folks, I merely inquire if they have ever considered the real
possibility of what happens in case of an emergency, such as a fire or
the need of a neighbor for emergency medical assistance. Will fire
fighters be able to connect fire hoses to a hydrant without expending
precious time and wasted efforts? Will an emergency vehicle be able to
get down a street obstructed by an improperly  --  and I might add
illegally  --  parked motor vehicle? Will I endanger others, including
drivers, pedestrians, and next-door neighbors, and/or their personal
property  --  e.g., motor vehicles, fences, homes, and front yards  --
by causing streets already cleared by N.Y.C.D.O.S. to be encumbered
once again by mounds of snow or to be imperiled by snow that has
melted and subsequently frozen?  Seriously, what is the major mental
malfunction in this regard?
Let’s not waste any more space or energy commiserating the
carelessness hard-headedness and hard-heartedness of the few. Permit
me to speak proactively and constructively to the many by respectfully
suggesting the following: check on elderly, homebound, or handicapped
neighbors in the event of a snow storm in order to insure that they
have adequate heat, food, water, and other necessary supplies;
(picking up from where I left off above with respect to those who
cannot clean their own sidewalks of snow and/or ice) lend a helping
hand to those who cannot clear their sidewalks on their own accord;
throw shoveled snow and/or ice along the edge of the sidewalk or in
one’s front yard and NEVER into a plowed street; be a good neighbor
and a smart person by clearing nearby fire hydrants and sewer openings
of any obstructions; if in doubt or in question, call your Community
Board, dial “3-1-1,” or consult the municipal website,
For those who do not willingly step up to the plate and unfortunately
only react to punitive incentives, please know that failure to perform
one’s snow removal responsibilities sufficiently and satisfactorily is
punishable by law with fines ranging from $100 to $350. Throwing snow
into the street is AGAINST THE LAW and will cost money to the
Sanitation Department (who must waste our precious tax dollars
repeating a task already done once) and also to the sinner, who, if
discovered, is subject to the abovementioned fines. Parking a motor
vehicle in a manner that jeopardizes traffic safety may lead to the
issuance of a traffic summons.  Impeding the work of our first
responders  --  N.Y.P.D., F.D.N.Y., and E.M.T.’s  --  can result in
both criminal penalties along with possible civil liability.
In closing, I address this final word to our young people. You are
good. You are thoughtful and considerate. You care about others. You
recognize injustice. You dream of a world that can and should be
kinder, gentler, and better. You have the capacity and the
determination to undertake this quest and to get it underway. We, your
elders, have failed you in many ways. We do not always give you good
example. We do not always practice what we preach. We have not always
counseled you wisely and imparted wholesome and virtuous values. We
have not made our schools the best that they can and should be for
you. We have not provided you with needed jobs, opportunities for
recreation and socialization, and productive outlets for your energies
and magnificent to God-given gifts.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that you, young friends, have nothing
to offer both to yourself and to others. You are not off--the-hook.
You have no right to waste your time.  You have no justification for
bad behavior. You have no excuse to break the law. You have every
obligation to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You
have the capacity to so love and to be so mature. Ergo, I make of you
this simple request: will you be a good neighbor as God has asked all
of us to be? Will you be your neighbor’s keeper? Will you be that Good
Samaritan who comes to the rescue of those in need on the road of
life? Would you kindly consider doing some snow and ice removal in the
event of more inclement weather? Will you do it for your own family?
Better still, will you do it for an elderly, sick, or incapacitated
next-door neighbor? Will you make a grocery run for the homebound?
Will you start to be the good person and productive citizen that we
all know you can be? Please, just think about it.
In the meantime, I urge all to practice the sagacious advice of our
new Mayor, The Honorable Bill de Blasio, for his fellow
Stay warm and dry!

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