Winter is getting old for pretty much everyone at this point: record-lows have been recorded in the tri-state area on multiple occasions in February.
Week after week, more snow seems to be in the forecast.
But for those walking along Route 58 to get to a bus stop, or to work, the cold isn’t all that’s getting old. The winter can be a dangerous time for a pedestrian walking Route 58; many property owners along the busy corridor have not shoveled their sidewalks, as per town regulations, leaving pedestrians to either maneuver over ice and snow or just walk on the road itself.
“I wish there was a sidewalk, but there isn’t one,” said 23-year-old Dallas Wiese on Monday evening. Mr. Weise was on his way to Stop & Shop — which has been shoveling its sidewalk — walking from the Fairfield Pines East apartments on Roanoke Avenue. He has made the walk about once a week for the past month, meeting his mother after she finished her shift to take the bus home with her.
It’s not an easy walk at times though, he said. He can dip in and out of parking lots, avoiding the roadway, but not all the time.
Bob Johnson lives off of Roanoke Avenue as well. He takes the Jitney back and forth from New York City to its stop by the Home Goods parking lot.
Sidewalks are not shoveled around that complex, though the area directly around the bus stop is.
“Why are they above the law?” he asked, referring to property owners along Route 58 who haven’t cleared their walkways. Mr. Johnson cited a story widely circulated last month: Even Secretary of State John Kerry was slapped with a $50 fine for failing to keep his Boston sidewalk shoveled.
While many property owners have shoveled their sidewalks on the busy county road — those housing Wendy’s, Prestigious Motors, Peconic Bay Medical Center, and Tanger Outlets to name a few — many others have not, such as the lots where Target, BJ’s and TGI Friday’s are located.
“It’s really a hazard for everybody,” said Mr. Johnson, noting that drivers can be at risk as well, trying to avoid pedestrians walking in the five-lane road. “If somebody driving down Route 58 kills someone, that’s going to change their lives, too.”
After noting last winter that sidewalks were not properly shoveled, in December Mr. Johnson reached out to Councilman Jim Wooten, the Town Board’s liaison to the handicapped advisory committee. Mr. Wooten then sent a letter to Route 58 businesses on Dec. 9 telling them that “sidewalks and pathways for our residents must be kept clean and passable according to Town Law.”
In an interview on Monday, Mr. Wooten said the reason he sent out a letter before winter hit was to hopefully get compliance from all the property owners. However a Freedom of Information Law request found that as of Friday, no citations had been issued to anyone in town for failing to remove snow from their sidewalks.
County officials said that the responsibility ultimately lies with the property owners, not the county itself.
“With our grand total of two code enforcement officers, we are trying to deal with it as best as we can,” town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said Tuesday morning. He said later on Tuesday that six citations had been issued to Route 58 businesses between Saturday and Tuesday, though it wasn’t immediately clear which property owners had been ticketed.
Mr. Johnson was glad to hear Tuesday that businesses had been cited.
“Maybe the property owners are not above the law,” he said. “That’s a good thing.”
Caption: Dallas Wiese walks up Route 58 about once a week to meet his mother after her shift at Stop & Shop ends. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)