A pilot program aimed at better snow removal in Blasdell should make the village a more walkable place, Mayor Michael Petrie said Wednesday.
Beginning this winter, the village plans to hire part-time help on an on-call basis to help keep sidewalks clear when excessive snowfall makes it difficult or impossible for residents to handle the job themselves.
"We'll see how it goes and modify it next year if we have to," Petrie said. "We don't want kids walking in the middle of the street because the sidewalks are impassible."
He emphasized that residents will still be responsible for clearing the sidewalk in front of their properties, just as they have been in prior years. But he noted that some homeowners, especially the elderly, are unable to do so when excessive snow builds up on the walkways.
The mayor wasn't certain how much snow would have to fall for the pilot program to kick in but said the program likely will be activated when the sidewalks "get tough to walk on."
Years ago, the village used to handle all sidewalk snow removal, but Petrie said it was an expensive operation. By using two part-time laborers, who also worked for the village during the summer, he hopes to keep the costs of the pilot program down.
In addition, the village's Department of Public Works will now be responsible for clearing the sidewalks on South Park and Lake avenues. A new bulldozer, with a snowblower attachment that is sized for sidewalks, will enable the DPW to keep those areas clear, he said.
The village was able to trade in an old, larger piece of equipment it used when it had its own water department to obtain the new snowblower.
When the village's water system merged with the Erie County Water Authority, it no longer needed that piece of equipment, Petrie said.