THE SQUEAKY WHEEL- Look out below: Icy walks make hard landings

Like skydiving without a parachute, walking in Charlottesville after an ice or snowstorm is a treacherous undertaking. Unshoveled sidewalks, crosswalks, and other walkways are often rough and slippery. Your next step can lead to an unexpected descent and a very hard landing. 

One concerned Hook reader (who asked not to be identified) raised a concern and submitted photos showing the apparently recurring inadequate snow clearing practice near the Second Street NE entrance to the Downtown Mall. A section of the steps leading toward the Paramount Theater is shoveled, but then snow is plowed into a huge mound that blocks the landing at the base of the only cleared and usable handrail descending the steps. Could this be by design?

Who do you call?

The City parks division is responsible for snow removal on the Downtown Mall, city school properties, and at city parks. The Public Works Department handles other city properties. I telephoned Brian Daly, assistant parks and recreation director, and asked if he was aware of this safety problem. He said he was not aware of the problem and had no record of previous citizen complaints. He was very responsive to this safety issue, and after several exchanged phone messages he assured me that his snow crews had all been briefed to ensure the problem won't happen again.

What can we do?

In this case, City staff is clearly responsive to safety concerns. Contact the parks division or public works department if you have a recurring snow removal problem. But, to improve the safety for everyone, shovel your walk and don't hesitate to shovel a neighbor's walk who may be out of town or unable to shovel. You will get a warm glow from burning some calories and from contributing to the community well-being.