This winter has been an extraordinary spectacle to behold. From negative temperatures cold enough to frostbite skin in minutes, to massive sheets of black ice causing havoc on the sidewalks and streets, this winter has been one of the more extreme in recent memory. Snow, ice and slush have accumulated in massive amounts all around the Town of Normal, creating problems for residents in regards to commuting from point A to point B.
The traction on the sidewalks and streets is awful, and footing is almost impossible to withhold. There is an exceptionally high chance of face planting when walking to class and this Editorial Board believes this can be avoided with a revamped snowplowing and shoveling protocol.
The Town of Normal’s plows seem to be working around the clock (especially this winter), yet most sidewalks and some roads seem untouched. This may be a result of the constant barrage of winter storms, or it might be valid evidence of a flawed snowplowing protocol. According to an article published by the Pantagraph, Bloomington property owners and tenants have the responsibility of shoveling sidewalks within four hours of last snowfall, or by 10 a.m. the next day. Businesses operating in Uptown Normal’s Business District follow the same ordinance, but outside of this particular district, no such protocol exists. So, these sidewalks are being left untouched because owners and tenants are not required to shovel these sidewalks.
If the responsibility does not fall onto the tenants or the Town of Normal, we are essentially hoping the sidewalks will be shoveled by those who volunteer to do so. And who do these volunteers consist of? That’s right, primarily college students.
According to colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com, 66 percent of students attending Illinois State University live off-campus. It would be a safe assumption that a majority of this percentile lives within the Normal area, so shoveling sidewalks would be the students’ Good Samaritan “responsibility.” Although more people should take initiative in shoveling clear pathways surrounding their home, college students have numerous responsibilities surpassing the importance of shoveling sidewalks. The Town of Normal should be more aware of the status of the sidewalks during these winter storms, and should take more initiative in clearing these for, not just college students, but for all other pedestrians.
Granted, this winter has been horrendous in all aspects. No town can properly prepare for what we have experienced this winter, but it does not disregard the fact that the snow storm response team’s responsibilities and protocol need to be revamped. The Pantagraph article described the frustration the public schools have with the lack of clear sidewalks because they fear for the children’s safety when they are walking to and from school. The un-shoveled sidewalks are starting to grab the attention of the local population, but the citizens of Normal need to accept more responsibility and clear the surrounding sidewalks around their property, and the Town of Normal should take more initiative as well.