No one even wants to think about plowing more snow at this point, but the Town of Amherst is already talking about next winter.
Amherst is considering some changes to its sidewalk snowplowing program, including charging a special tax on those property owners who get their sidewalks cleared by the town.
A tentative tax rate is proposed at 60 cents per linear foot of street frontage.
“We told people in the beginning that there could be a charge for this,” Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein.
“We didn’t have any data on what it’s going to cost us, so we’ve been collecting this data for the past three years.”
Now – after this season’s unusually brutal winter – the town has a better handle on what to charge property owners who receive the service next season.
The question of sidewalk snowplowing districts has come up in Amherst repeatedly over the years, especially after three teenagers were fatally struck on Niagara Falls Boulevard in 2001 while walking in the street because sidewalks were impassable.
In 2011, the town created “sidewalk snow relief districts” to plow homeowner and commercial sidewalks that are notoriously hard to keep open in winter because snow and ice is repeatedly dumped on them by passing plow trucks along major roads.
Ultimately, two districts were formed with consent from a majority of the property owners.
The first includes the Amherst side of Niagara Falls Boulevard, between Kenmore and Betina avenues, as well as Maple Road, between Millersport Highway and Transit Road.
The second district comprises an assortment of sidewalks that run along the rear of properties, making access by the owners extraordinarily difficult.
A public hearing on the sidewalk districts is scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting of the Town Board, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St., Williamsville.
While the public is welcome to comment on the tax rate proposed for the districts, the hearing is specifically to address plans to tweak the program, Weinstein said.
Those changes include excluding the sidewalks in front of Maple West and East Elementary schools, as requested by the Williamsville Central School District.
The district has decided that it will plow those sidewalks.
The town also recommends expanding the sidewalk service to a few additional parcels along Sheridan and Wehrle drives, at the request of those property owners.
Could the program be expanded in the future?
“We’re looking for input,” Weinstein said. “We’re trying to provide services people want.”