Uncleared sidewalks spell treacherous for residents

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KENTWOOD, Mich. – Although the past few days have seen warmer temperatures, snow-covered sidewalks are still causing problems for people who rely on clear walkways in their daily routines.

Floyd Martenies, a Kentwood resident who does the majority of his traveling on a motorized scooter, knows all too well the dangers of unshoveled sidewalks. Just last week, Floyd was making a grocery run. Unable to get his scooter up on to the sidewalk, Floyd was forced to risk rolling in traffic in the roadway or go hungry.

"When you're right out there in the street, you don't know if they're going to hit you or not,” said Floyd. "I never take the scooter in the street for that reason, and I thought to myself, Snow is coming; we're going to have issues.”

It isn’t just handicapped individuals who must make similar dangerous decisions. Children on their way to and from school, joggers, and people waiting at bus stops also rely on clear sidewalks for safety.

Floyd is left wondering who is responsible for clearing the roadside walkways. The answer, in most cases is property owners.

"Here in the city of Kentwood, the property owner, whether it's a business or a residential ho, is responsible for maintaining their sidewalks,” said John Gorney, Director of Kentwood Public Works.

Gorney says that will hold true in most cities in West Michigan.

“I know the ordinances are going be a little bit different,” he added, “but ultimately, most cities around the area all require their residents or property owners to maintain their sidewalks."

The task may be inconvenient, but it could also be lifesaving. Not to mention that property owners face potentially hefty fines for not tending to snowy or icy sidewalks.

“Just kind of keep up on it a little,” Floyd advises property owners. “Make sure it's passable. That's all we ask for really: a way to get through the sidewalks without being all nerved up that we're going to get hit or killed."

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  • Bob

    The City of Grand Rapids is not enforcing its code concerning snow removal from sidewalks either. There are over 500 hundred open cases and the city has done nothing to enforce or close any of these cases in five days. There are still many impassible sidewalks in the city and the city does nothing.

    What a disservice to the residents of Grand Rapids.

  • Andrew

    Attention property owners: In addition to the city fines, you are vulnerable to ADA lawsuits. I don’t know what you know about those, but I can tell you that they are extremely costly! We are not talking about hundreds of dollars here, we are talking tens of thousands. All it would take is one disabled person to call a lawyer and you would be on the hook.

  • Denise MiIlbrook

    1. violation of faith; betrayal of trust; treason.
    2. an act of perfidy, faithlessness, or treason.

    Somebody needs a dictionary.