SOUTHWICK – Residents and business owners on College Highway will be faced with their first snow removal challenge this week as a Nor’easter is set to hit western Massachusetts.
Property owners from Tannery Road to Town Hall will, for the first time, have to deal with removing snow and ice on the newly installed sidewalks. The problem that could arise is when plows come by, the snow and ice would be plowed onto the sidewalks, making removal difficult for some because there is no tree belt.
The Board of Selectmen and Department of Public Works (DPW) have discussed options to help property owners, but there has been no solution.
“There has been no direction given to me to clear snow and ice, or to sand sidewalks,” said DPW Director Jeffrey Neece.
Selectmen Chairman Arthur Pinell said it is “standard operating procedure at this time” as far as sidewalks.
“We are still looking at the options and it may be put into the budget for next year, but now we are following the bylaws that currently exist in town,” Pinell said.
Town bylaws call for property owners to clear sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowstorm.
Neece said the DPW is prepared for what could be the first significant snowstorm of the year.
“Our trucks are prepped, plows are on – I think it will be a pretty routine storm though,” said Neece.
Neece presented the board with options last month to purchase or lease equipment from Tri County Supply that would help clear sidewalks.
“The equipment is self-propelled and would need an operator,” he said, adding hat it includes various attachments capable of clearing snowdrifts.
The purchase price is $80,000-$90,000, while leasing would cost $1,400 per month for the winter season. Neece added there is a lease with an option to buy.
“I think if we anticipate bad weather for the next years, we should buy, but if we get a winter like last year, we should lease,” said Neece.
Neece said the snow would still need to be trucked out of the area, particularly where there are parking lots next to the sidewalk and there is nowhere to put the snow.
A local company has said it would remove snow from the sidewalks from Tannery Road to Town Hall with costs ranging from $800 for up to six-inches, to $1,500 for six-12 inches of snow, and $2,000 for more than 12-inches of snow. That cost would be for each incident of plowing.
Pinell said he would like to see other price comparisons for machine purchase and lease before making any decisions.
“This is all preliminary,” he said, “but to be confident with assessing this I’d like to see if other machine supply places are comparable.”
Selectwoman Tracy Cesan said she agreed the town should consider plowing the sidewalks for safety purposes, but said they should consider a charge to the property owners, which would help defray equipment costs over time, and make it fair for the property owners in town who must clear their own sidewalks.