Buffalo, NY - There's a seasonal discussion that emerges from Buffalo City Hall at this time of year as we approach winter, how best to remove snow from sidewalks. One city council member feels the city should look at putting the right equipment on the job, but his plan has failed to gain traction so far.
City Council decided, by a vote of eight to one, Tuesday afternoon to stick with the existing plan for clearing sidewalks in Buffalo. That involves city hired contractors who are paid $160,000 dollars to remove the snow from city owned properties.
While the overwhelming majority of council members favored that agreement, Councilman Richard Fontana sought another option. Fontana, who has built up a reputation for personally handling lawn cutting of overgrown lots in his district, has suggested the city take over the snow removal with their own sidewalk plows similar to the ones operated in some towns and villages. Other cities like Rochester run those sidewalk plows and assess a tax to do so.
Fontana says "I think if we're going to spend some dollars we should do it in a more complete fashion or what I've been proposing is buy the equipment ourselves. Spend the $160,000 dollars on equipment and maybe add some manpower and get out there and do the job ourselves."
There is some pushback on the plan from Fontana. City Council Majority Leader David Rivera says "Heaven forbid we have a storm and we don't have the capacity and we don't have this contract...I'd rather side on the side of public safety and making sure we have the equipment, the personnel, in place to deal with whatever the weather may be."
Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak says "We always look at options out there and I discussed that with other council members, always look at options. We're always trying to do the best thing and use the highest technology available to us."
This only applies to city owned properties on streets like Elmwood, Bailey, and Broadway for sidewalk removal. Private property owners are still responsible for clearing their sidewalks.