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Fines could be imposed for snowy sidewalks

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — If you own property in Indianapolis – residential or business – a city ordinance mandates you must clear the walk of snow within 10 hours. If not, you could face a $50 fine.

“Enough for a wheelchair access,” said Dimitri Kyser, communication coordinator with the Department of Code Enforcement. “Usually the simple rule of thumb – if two pedestrians can walk side by side.”

Richard Wilson wishes many followed that rule. He doesn’t own a car and that means walking – no matter the weather.

“It’s kind of difficult, especially with the little bit of the slush and ice,” Wilson said. “I walk a lot slower now than normal.”

While he says walks in his neighborhood are clear – that’s not always the case – forcing him into the street with traffic. He doesn’t understand why people can’t clear the walks.

“They should do it,” Wilson said. “It’s a courtesy.”

Most, however, do follow the rule.

“There are times where we’ll have someone call in whether they are reporting on a business or a neighbor if it looks like the path hasn’t been cleared for quite some time,” Kyser said.

It’s something Marti Steussy encounters a lot on her walk to work most days – forcing her to take back roads to avoid walking in the street.

“So I have a long standing grudge against people but I think honestly most people drive most places and they never think about it,” she said.

Steussy has nothing but praise for those who take the time to clear the way.

“Some of the neighborhoods I walk through to get there are less prosperous than this one,” she said. “But the sidewalks are much better cleared down there and I think it’s because the people who live in those houses walk and they understand it really helps to have sidewalks shoveled.”

While a fine could be imposed for unshoveled walks, Kyser said education is a key component as well.

“Hey, you know, we are here to help you if you do need help and this is what the ordinance says,” he said.

As for sidewalks in front of empty lots, code enforcement says it is the responsibility of the property owner to come out and clear the sidewalks.

If you do encounter sidewalks that haven’t been shoveled, you are encouraged to call the Department of Code Enforcement at 317-327-8700 or the Mayor’s Action Line at 317-327-4622.