SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The city of Sioux Falls has about 1,300 miles of sidewalks but not all get cleaned of snow and ice within 48 hours of an ended storm.
Some residents aren’t physically able to clear sidewalks themselves and/or they may not be able to pay for someone else to do it.
The Workers on Wheels program through Active Generation can help shovel some sidewalks but there’s more need than there is helpers, said program coordinator Valerie Lietz.
Workers on Wheels (WOW) is a program that helps age and income eligible homeowners stay in their home through volunteers that may help with light maintenance, shopping and other duties such as snow shoveling.
Lietz said 50 eligible people are enrolled in the snow removal program. Forty-five have a volunteer who is able to shovel snow from the sidewalk. Five are waiting on a volunteer.
Another 45-50 who are not part of the (WOW) program have asked Lietz for help clearing sidewalks.
“Most people who need help are in central Sioux Falls,” Lietz said.
For those residents, a sidewalk in need of cleaning “is a big concern,” Lietz said.
“The city ordinance requires sidewalks to be cleared within 48 hours…,” Lietz said.
Sioux Falls Property Maintenance Inspection Manager Kelly Boysen said property owners of sidewalks that aren’t cleared of snow or ice within 48 hours after the end of a storm are notified of the need to clean with 24 hours. If the sidewalks aren’t cleared within 24 hours of the notice, the city will issue a $100 citation. The first citation can be followed by a $200 citation and eventually, the city can hire a contractor to clean the sidewalk at the expense of the property owner.
Residents in need of sidewalk cleaning help don’t want to receive a citation nor do they want to pay the city to have a contractor clean it, Lietz said.
Most residents in the Wheels on Workers program and others who’ve requested help from Lietz are on fixed incomes and can’t afford citations or removal costs, she said.
Just as they can’t afford to hire someone to regularly clean their sidewalks, she said.
“Snow removal is about $50 (a time),” Lietz said. “That’s $400 to $500 for the whole season if you are lucky.”
Lietz said Active Generations has been trying to fill the snow removal need since the South Dakota Department of Corrections in 2017 stopped a program called Scoop It in which inmates cleared sidewalks for those in need. Lietz coordinated with the Helpline Center in Sioux Falls on a snow removal program. She was able to fill all the needs in 2017 and 2018 but is short this season.
Having uncleared sidewalks isn’t just a concern for her clients, Lietz said, it’s a concern for the general public.
Vulnerable adults and anyone who uses a sidewalk could trip on an uncleared sidewalk, Lietz said.
Now that school has started after the holiday break, more than 25,000 students are back in public and private schools in Sioux Falls. Not all use a sidewalk to get to school or a bus stop.
“As a school system, we are constantly reviewing student safety and this includes safe routes to school. We appreciate our school neighbors that promptly scrape snow and ice from sidewalks making walking practical, safe and comfortable for students by reducing the risk of injury from slips and falls,” Brenda Mitzel, the Director of Instruction and Programs for Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools, said in an email to KELOLAND News.
“Street corners can be tricky to navigate when snow piles up from plowing. We appreciate all who clear a path allowing students to safely cross the street,” Mitzel said.
If you are interested in helping shovel snow with Wheels for Workers, contact Lietz at 605-336-6722.