08 December 2011

Parks Officials Ignore Omaha Statutes

The city of Omaha requires that all ice and snow be removed from sidewalks within 24 hours after snow removal on city streets is completed.

After the weekend snow, much of the snow was removed from the streets and sidewalks, including the sidewalks in Memorial Park.

This was, however, not done on the steps south of the memorial. Sledders and others had walked on the steps, tramping down the snow. Much of it then turned to ice.

Officials of the Omaha Parks and Recreation ignored the situation, as they have each winter. There was simply no attempt to clear the steps, which are a hazard to walk on due to the prevalent icy conditions.

A picture of the situation taken the morning of December 6th was sent to Mayor Jim Suttle and the director of Parks, Melinda Pearson, asking when the walks would be cleared. This was three days after the end of the snowfall.

Example of uncleared steps at Memorial Park, Omaha.

About noon on December 7th, while carefully walking up the steps, it was warm enough to get some melting underway, and in places the ice could be broken away simply by stomping upon it. Using an ice pick would have easily been sufficient to clear away a portion of the snow, and improve the situation, where at least a portion of the steps would be ice-free to allow safe passage by walkers.

On the morning of December 8th, nothing had yet been done to clear the steps of the ice hazard. This is five days after the end of the weekend snow. Nothing was done, and this was a case where city officials do not clear the steps in a park for which they are responsible.

A portion of the steps had been partially cleared by mid-day on December 9th.

Further details on this subject have been determined. The Omaha municipal code defines different types of public right-of-way. There is a walkways and sidewalks, which are the portion of the street right of way used for pedestrian travel. The city ordinance only covers public sidewalks, so there is no responsibility for private sidewalks, for walkways in parks, etc.

This is splitting hairs. Rather than proper clearing of snow from a public walkway, city officials can rely on a legal twist to allow a lax response.

Warmer temps in the few days since the 9th have suitably improved the condition.

We may have a few public sidewalks in parks. For instance I think Miller Park has a public sidewalk that runs along 30th Street in the right of way and Memorial Park contains public sidewalks adjacent to Dodge Street in the right of way.