PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The city of Providence is working on a plan to make sure all sidewalks are safe this winter, whether the property owner takes care of it or not.
With the potential for a winter storm this coming weekend, it won’t be long before the sidewalks are covered in snow and ice.
A city ordinance that dates back to 1914 says all property owners must shovel their sidewalks within eight hours of the final snowfall, or else face a fine of $25 to $500.
The city’s Ordinance Committee approved an amendment this week that would allow crews to clear all sidewalks that aren’t being cared for, then bill those property owners.
“It’s really a matter of public safety,” said Frank LaTorre, Sr. Dir. of the Downtown Improvement District. “It really, really is.”
LaTorre’s crews, while clearing snow from the handicapped ramps at intersections downtown, will then report back on stretches of sidewalk that aren’t cleared.
“I think some people thought it was a nice neighborly thing to do, but the fact of the matter is it’s an ordinance and it’s incredibly important,” he said Wednesday.
The bill would have to be paid on top of the fine for not shoveling the sidewalk, and if it’s ignored, a municipal lien could be placed on the property.
“If we’re really a world-class city, one of the main things is how you get around, and the ability to clear 100% of the sidewalks is absolutely vital,” LaTorre said.
The amendment includes an educational component by the city to inform owners of their responsibility. There’s also a plan to establish policies to help elderly or disabled property owners meet the sidewalk-clearing requirements.
Similar ordinances are in place in other local cities.
In Warwick, property owners have 24 hours to remove snow and 12 hours to treat ice before facing a fine of $100. In Cranston, property owners also have 24 hours to clear snow and three hours to treat ice before facing fines of $20 for a residential property and $250 for a business property.Ted Nesi contributed to this report.