Over the years I’ve done numerous posts on Ward Pinkel (owner of Urban Threads) and his dedication to Elmwood Avenue (from sweeping sidewalks and streets to hanging holiday lights in the trees). Despite all of the times that I see him cleaning, fixing, and hanging, he ceases to amaze me with the longevity of his determination.
Today I happened upon Ward as he was cruising down a sidewalk in front of Buffalo Fleece and Outerwear, across from Spot Coffee. I flagged him down as he was clearing snow with the Elmwood Village Association’s mini-plow. I asked him about his volunteer work and he said, “I pick up the plow at the EVA office (across from Pano’s) and I do the sidewalks from there up to the 500-block if I can (and when he can). I would even go as far as plowing the 500-block (think Toro block), but many of the patios that are supposed to be taken down at the end of the summer are not. That makes it very difficult to clear snow in general. The reason that I do this is to make it at easy for people to walk and shop as possible… I don’t mind dedicating my time, but I would think that more businesses would clear their own snow.”
Each year it is mind-boggling to see that there are some businesses that just don’t give a rat’s ass about shoveling. You would think that with all of the time that The City takes to issue parking tickets, they would have the ability to issue additional tickets to businesses that don’t take care of their walks.
If you’re wondering why the EVA doesn’t plow for everyone (since they have the vehicle – called The Gator – with a plow attachment), Ward tells me that “People would get so used to it that they would just expect it, and if it snows a lot there’s no way to keep up . When the EVA got the Gator, I suggested that we get the plow attachment so that when there was a big snow we could clear the street crossings and the sidewalks when a few of the slacker property owners let the snow build up. I do this as a courtesy so that people can get from business to business. Elmwood is tricky because there are residential sections in-between the commercial sections, and the sidewalks can get very narrow. There’s no excuse for anyone to not plow his or her walkway, no matter where it is.”
Back in February I wrote about a petition that was being generated in support of municipal sidewalk plowing. This is a quality of life issue that is not going to just disappear, and we can’t expect one business owner to keep up with the snow build-up. If we aren’t willing to roll out heated sidewalks like some cities do, then there needs to be a system in place that alleviates the headaches that we all suffer as we try to get around these commercial blocks and intersections. Maybe that’s ticketing, and maybe it municipal clearing. Any other ideas?