Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Problem Spots Cleared

I don’t know if it was just myself or that other people also contacted the city in regards to sidewalks that remained unshoveled. But as of today all the spots I mentioned in my email to the Public Works Department and the Building Inspector’s Office have been cleared of snow. (See the list in the post, No Complaints?, below.) I emailed both departments to thank them for taking care of the matter.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that I was the only one to complain. Even though I am one person, my email did produce results. So what is stopping the rest of you from doing the same? Or is it just easier for you to grumble and bitch, but not take action?

No, you don’t have to rant and yell, demanding action. Just write a polite letter or email. Show city officials proper respect. Anger is only justified if they constantly ignore you.

A few people must think I’m making a big issue out of picayune problems, snow-blocked sidewalks, dogshit, whatever. But they are missing The Big Picture. And it’s not worth explaining in detail what The Big Picture to a person who doesn’t get it on his own. Maybe some of them can wrap their minds around this concept: Symptoms ain’t causes.

Even though I do joke at times with this blog, I still try to be fair when targeting a problem. If a problem has been fixed, then I will give credit. Of course, I will admit that having a blog where I document with text and images certain problems might give me an edge.

So where’s your blog? Or at least, where’s your letter to the appropriate official or to the newspaper?

Sorry, I don’t respect silence.

Problem Spots: Whiteface II Passable

Giving credit where it is due: yesterday someone cut through the five-foot high snow pile blocking the sidewalk near 62 Miller Street. The photo below shows a view looking north. As you can see, the rest of the sidewalk beyond the pile is still a mess down to the railroad crossing. So who is responsible for this stretch? The railroad or the billboard company?

But at least with the pass open in Whiteface Mountain II, someone can at least stay off the street, albeit the pedestrian still has to trudge through the rough section. Not recommended for anyone with physical limitations, especially an older person concerned about falling.

Asked for a comment about the new passageway through Whiteface II, Plattsy The Clown sez:

“Hurray! Now I can rescue the Donner Party!”

Maybe they will have Plattsy for dinner when he gets there.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Problem Spots: 2/24/07

As a follow-up to the previous post, No Complaints?, these images were taken Saturday afternoon, February 24th. Let’s see if man (with shovels) or Mother Nature (with warmer temps) clears these problem spots first.

First, let me give credit where it is due. This spot on the corner of Margaret and Elm has been cleared; no more walking in the street for pedestrians.

Of all the places that should be cleared, one would think a school crossing would be high on the list. This is looking west at the entrance to the Oak Street School on Margaret Street. The entrance across the street is cleared, but as you can plainly see, the sidewalk in the foreground is blocked, forcing the school kids to walk around in the street.

Two snow storms and still hasn’t been touched: the corner of Elm and Miller.

62 Miller, AKA Whiteface Mountain II.

I forgot to mention this in my email to the city. This is the corner of Delord and Miller. Maybe the party responsible for this stretch of sidewalk figures that he doesn’t have to bother since Whiteface II blocks the other end.

And if some of you are getting tired of looking at this stuff, imagine what it’s like to be a pedestrian and deal with it every day. Physical obstacles are much worse than visual boredom.

Of course, if these problem spots are eliminated, then I can return to more artistic images with this blog. Documenting this crap is making me grouchy and snow blind.

No Complaints?

In today’s Press Republican there is an article about the sidewalk situation in Plattsburgh, that some spots have remained unshoveled after the last snowstorm. According to the article, Superintendent of Public Works Kevin Murphy states that he has not received any complaints and therefore hasn’t taken any action.

To rectify that problem, I have emailed him and the Building Inspector. Below is a copy of that email.

= = =


City Of Plattsburgh Public Works
Kevin Murphy dpwcity@charterinternet.com

City of Plattsburgh Building Inspector
Richard Perry, Supervisor perryr@westelcom.com

Dear Sirs:

After reading the article in today’s Press Republican [Sat. 2/24/07] in regards to keeping the sidewalks clear of snow, I am sending you a list of specific complaints about spots that have remain unshoveled. I am surprised that my complaint isn’t on file since I did email the mayor a few days ago about certain locations. These spots remained untouched as of 1 PM today:

-- Corner of Elm and Miller Streets: Both sidewalks on Elm and Miller are still blocked after two snowstorms.

-- Near 62 Miller Street (near the billboard): Someone, apparently the owner of 62 Miller, is responsible for a five foot snow pile that completely blocks the sidewalk. This was created by a plow, creating a major obstruction.

-- Oak Street School Crosswalk, Margaret St., East side (where the Children’s Store used to be): A crosswalk but no access on one side?

-- Montcalm, near The House of Sewing & Vacuums: I haven’t checked this today; maybe it has been cleared. Sidewalk obstructed once again by a pile created by a snowplow.

To quote the article in today's Press Republican:

"[Building Inspector Richard Perry] said that if property owners who have failed to comply with ordinance are brought to the city's attention, the Public Works Department will contact them and ask that the snow and ice be cleared.

"If they ignore the warning, Public Works has the authority to clear the area, at the property owner's expense." [Page A6, "Winter restricting pedestrian travel" by Mark Misak]

I am looking forward to seeing these spots cleared of snow in the next few days. If scofflaws are billed for the work, this will help the city deal with its present budget crisis.

I have been covering this problem for some time on my blog, www.writog.blogspot.com, where I have photographs of the problem spots. I will be keeping track of these spots with photographs showing what progress has been made as time passes.


Luke T. Bush

Whiteface II Open For Night Skiing

All trails are open for nighttime skiing at Whiteface Mountain II, conveniently located right across the sidewalk near 62 Miller Street in Plattsburgh, NY.

Scooting Scooters Off The Sidewalks

Remember the old-fashioned foot scooter? It’s called nowadays a push or kick scooter. One leg provides the main power: the rider induces motion from his foot pushing away, again and again, on the ground. He can build up a good amount of coasting speed, especially with an incline.

Well, that wasn’t dangerous enough for pedestrians on the sidewalks. Now there are electric-powered scooters that use the same basic design, but let the rider save his leg. Top speed for these scooters ranges from 9 to 20 MPH. Imagine a big person going zipping down a sidewalk. Even a kid on one could hurt an older person if there’s a collision.

Despite the snowy, narrow sidewalks, I had to make way the other evening for a woman on one of these motorized menaces. Her scooter was black; no lights. She held a bag of groceries in one arm while the other had to steer her scooter, keeping it under control.

Below is an email I sent to the mayor. I realize that with the budget crisis facing Plattsburgh, electric scooters on sidewalks doesn’t rank that high in priority. But it is a problem.

Why are pedestrians given such second-class status in Plattsburgh? Even when I obey the law, using a street crosswalk, I end up almost being hit by an inattentive driver. Now I have to tolerate bad motorists on a sidewalk? I don’t think so.

After all, it’s called a sideWALK, not a scooter path.

= = =

Dear Mayor Kasprzak:

Thank you for your prompt reply in regards to the problem of sidewalks not being shoveled after a snowfall. From what I read in the Press Republican, I had the impression that something would be done this winter about the situation.

I want to raise another matter related to the sidewalks. This evening I was walking down a sidewalk and someone came up behind me on a motorized scooter. I didn't hear the person until they said something and passed by me. I noticed there were no lights on the scooter. This is my second "close encounter" with one of these scooters. My other encounter involved someone zipping down the sidewalk almost at full speed. Someone is going to get hurt.

Why should I as a pedestrian yield the right of way to one of them? Shouldn't they be on the street? There must be an ordinance against this type of vehicle on a sidewalk. And after spring arrives, this problem will only become worse.


Luke T. Bush

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mayor Kasprzak Replies

After I published the previous two posts about unshoveled sidewalks in the city of Plattsburgh, I emailed the new mayor, Donald Kasprzak, about the problem, including links to each article. Below is his reply. I appreciate his prompt reponse to my email.

= = =

FROM: Mayor Don Kasprzak

Luke, I mentioned your site to the building inspector and several other department heads. Last year the council began the process of redefining the language of the ordinance on the books. For some reason, nothing was finalized.

We have begun to review language again, however, this issue will not be resolved this winter. Department heads are presently giving their comments, the council will review the information when it is available, and ultimately the public may have some opportunity to comment. If the city is going to include a fine provision then we must make sure everything is legal and enforceable. The process is not a simple one. Thanks.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Plattsburgh: Shoveling Snow Or Bull?

Will this be the winter that the city of Plattsburgh finally does something about the problem with unshoveled sidewalks?

As mentioned in a previous post, at least a couple of people have cleared sidewalk sections with snowplows, leaving a large pile blocking any passage at one end. But even without such obstacles, deep snow on an uncleared sidewalk is enough to force pedestrians to take to the street, taking chances with careless drivers.

Back in November 2001 the mayor at that time proclaimed in a newspaper article that property owners had to shovel the sidewalks adjacent to their homes or buildings. For those who didn’t obey the ordinance, the city would send out its public works crew to “scour” the city, find unshoveled sidewalks and then clear them. Then the city would bill the owner for the work. The deadline was 24 hours after a storm ended.

In a recent Press Republican article headlined “City to crack down on sidewalk scofflaws” [2/9/07] the new mayor stated that there were “very serious safety issues” involved with the problem. One resident addressed the city council, saying he had to walk in the street due to a snow-blocked sidewalk and he was almost struck by a car.

The mayor said that a fine schedule for violators would be put into place soon. That’s odd. If you read the article from November 2001, it sounds like the system was ready to go back then to crack down on the scofflaws.

Because of the city budget crisis, the mayor is taking a hard look at expenses. If the city is short on revenue, then clearing the sidewalks and billing or fining the responsible parties shouldn’t add that much more to the red ink. Taking care of the problem this way would be a lot cheaper than settling a lawsuit resulting from a pedestrian who couldn’t use the sidewalk and was injured or killed in the street.

Maybe the new fee schedule is finalized and the city will finally do something after decades of empty promises and threats. Or maybe the city is just shoveling what the people want to hear. After all, it promised to crack down on people who weren’t trimming their hedges next to sidewalks. Hedges grew wild, obstructing sidewalks. I called city hall about this problem and was told that the city was “bluffing,” that it really couldn’t enforce such an ordinance.

Unshoveled sidewalks – just political posturing, more “bluffing?”

Below are photos showing spots that need attention, places where it’s much easier to walk in the street. These were taken more than 48 hours after the storm.

Is everyone at Triumph Auto Glass suffering from bad backs? Or do they feel they don’t have to bother to finish the job and clean up their corner on Margaret and Elm? People tromping through made the pathway, not a shoveler.

In a few places the fire hydrant has been cleared out – an important detail – but snow is piled up on the corner. The option for a pedestrian is to climb or walk in the street. There are a couple of spots like this on Cornelia Street; this one is at the intersection with North Catherine, across from the church. (You can see in the background that the church has cleared its corner, allowing access to the crosswalk. Good job.)

The corner of Elm and Miller. Two snow storms, not one snowflake shoveled. Maybe this will be cleared after more storms create a visual hazard for motorists. After all, motorists, warm and protected in their vehicles, have priority over lowly pedestrians. That’s why all the streets are cleared but some sidewalks are forgotten.

Brainless Bastards Blockade Sidewalks

It’s bad enough when people don’t shovel their sidewalks, but it’s even worse when they make the sidewalks impassable with big piles of snow.

What is a snowplower thinking when he packs up a small mountain obstructing all pedestrians? Then again, why should he care? He gets around in his truck; he doesn’t have to worry about being stuck on foot.

Welcome to Mount Fuji on Montcalm. Here’s the view looking north.

And here’s the view from the other side. Of course, this means that someone has to walk in the street to get around Mount Fuji. And if that person is struck by a careless driver, whose fault will it be?

Hey, why drive to Whiteface Mountain when you can ski on Miller Street?

And here’s the view from the northern exposure of Whiteface II. Notice the tracks leading up to that pile? Maybe someone is buried under there. But we won’t know until spring – or until someone with brains opens up the sidewalk again.

Monday, February 05, 2007

An Open Reply to Joe

Usually I answer a comment under each post, but this time I thought I would feature one. This comment was sent in regards to my post, "A Snowy Day To Protest A Snow Job," about a recent rally against the failed war in Iraq. My reply follows.

joe-clintoncounty wrote:


You live off the system!!! Stop BITCHEN'''

So BI PO will you post this!!!??

Dear Joe Sixpack:

Of course I will post your comment. Maybe you'll explain what BI PO means? One of those acronymic neologisms like LOL that text-messaging kids are hep to?

As for me living off the system, I can argue that the system lives off me. Even though I don't generate a big income, I still help in my own small way to keep it going. I pay rent, buy groceries, and on rare occasions I even purchase a new materialistic toy like a camera. If I and others in similar circumstances suddenly dropped out of the scene, the economy would suffer. People would be out of work and that means less tax dollars scammed by the IRS to pay for another dead-end war.

Don't forget what happened during the Great Depression. If things hadn't turned around, there would have been revolution in his country. Who knows, maybe it would have been as bad as the French Revolution. Cut too many out of the system, don't let them have their little share, and watch chaos erupt.

Your comment implies that I'm a parasite. Well, the government is parasitic in its own way. I don't mind a system that is symbiotic but beneficial to both parties, i.e., mutualistic. (You understand those big words, don't you, Joe?) I believe in this concept:

"...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely as to effect their Safety and Happiness."

No, Joe, that isn't a key quote from the Communist Manifesto. I "bitch" because this country was created by a lot of bitching, followed by action when there was no other option. My "bitching" is a right. So far the situation hasn't come to a crucial point where the People have to abolish the government -- but the gov does need some altering via democratic means, thanks to narrow-minded polyps such as you.

And, Joe, make sure that you include that last point in your secret report on me to the FBI, CIA, or whatever alphabet agency you're snitching for like a McCarthyite weasel.

Gee, did I stereotype you, Joe? Funny how every action leads to an equal and negative reaction.

Luke T. Bush