The tragic deaths of two teenagers have forced Amherst to reassess its policy of not enforcing its ordinance on clearing snow from sidewalks.
In explaining why the ordinance has not been enforced, officials had said the town lacked the money and manpower to do the job. This is patently absurd.
Amherst operates on an annual budget of tens of millions of dollars. The cost of hiring two or three inspectors to properly enforce the sidewalk ordinance would be in the tens of thousands. There can be no question that the town has the money to do this.
If town officials had been honest, they would have said that spending money to keep sidewalks clear for pedestrians was not a priority, and that they freely chose not to fund ordinance enforcement in favor of other programs.
The fact that Amherst, in response to taxpayer outcry, has said it will now enforce the ordinance seems to validate this assessment.
Two of the basic responsibilities of government are to protect personal safety and enforce the laws. Money should be allocated to these concerns before it is spent on recreation services, golf courses and the purchase of farmland. I hope that, in the future, Amherst officials will pay more attention to these basic responsibilities. No one will ever be killed if the Pepsi Center has to cut its hours, or if another driving range is not built.