Our View: Keep it clear, for business’ sake
December 6, 2011
It snows a lot in Steamboat Springs, and that's a good thing. The white stuff has a lot to do with our winter economy and our quality of life.
But there's one place we cannot allow the snow to pile up — in front of our businesses, and particularly those in downtown Steamboat.
This might seem trivial to a population of residents who have come to expect, and even relish, deep snow. Many of us see snow not as an impediment to our daily routines but rather as an enhancement. After all, when's the last time snow kept you from heading into town for breakfast or venturing out to run errands?
That's not true of everyone, of course, especially the vacationers we rely on to keep our economy humming. It's also why we hope an early December reminder to property owners to keep their sidewalks clear of snow and ice will prevent future episodes like that of the busy Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, when sidewalks along the south side of Lincoln Avenue were an icy, dangerous mess.
Last week, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett sent an email to her business members reminding them of the importance — and there's a city ordinance that requires it — of keeping the sidewalks in front of their businesses cleared at all times. Barnett recounted two incidents from the holiday shopping weekend that underscored her point. One involved a shopper who slipped on an icy sidewalk and slammed her head against the ground. The other was a store clerk who told Barnett about customers who had talked about not wanting to walk on the "shady side" of Lincoln Avenue because of all the snow and ice.
On Tuesday, Barnett said response from her email was positive, but it also reinforced its message. She received numerous calls for residents who also were frustrated with the lack of attention some retailers give to their properties. Her message to retailers is simple, and it needs to be followed: Consider the customer experience. Clear your sidewalks throughout the day. Keep snow and ice from building up in front of your stores. Have a shovel, a bucket of ice melt and an ice chipper available for you and your employees to use.
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Barnett has city law on her side, too. Steamboat Springs Municipal Ordinance 20-5, "Removal of snow and ice from sidewalks, parking areas and curbs," reads, in part: "The owner, occupant or agent of the owner of any building, property or vacant lot is required to maintain the sidewalks, the parking area and the curbs (the area from the property line to the gutter) adjoining the building, property or vacant lot in a clean condition and to remove snow and ice from adjoining sidewalks immediately after every snowfall. The snow removal shall occur on at least a daily basis during the time period from Nov. 20 through April 15 of each year."
If only for liability's sake, one would think business owners would be vigilant about clearing their sidewalks. Unfortunately, many aren't. That has to change. Not only will it save them money in future litigation, it might make them some additional money through increased foot traffic.