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Slippery debate over winter street care

Courtesy of MCT

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When the snow starts to fall, the dangers of winter weather become a major concern for the OSU community, specifically the slippery sidewalks located off campus.

Kyle Witham, a second-year in pre-nursing, remembered one night his freshmen year when slippery sidewalks covered in snow and ice added to a dangerous situation. He and his friends watched a drunk woman slip on a huge patch of ice and land on her face.

“The combination of alcohol, high heels and uncleared sidewalks is not good,” Witham said.

Many have questioned who is in charge of keeping the sidewalks cleared. Bob Mickley, property manager for Buckeye Real Estate, explained that “no one” is in charge of keeping the sidewalks snow- and ice-free.

In the lease the company requires students living on their properties to sign, Buckeye Real Estate mentions that they are not required to remove snow and ice off of the sidewalks, and do not require those signing the lease to remove it. Attorneys representing Buckeye Real Estate discourage them from any form of sidewalk maintenance in order to keep the company out of any legal issues.

“If you maintain the sidewalks, you are liable. If you don’t, nobody is liable,” Mickley said.

Mickley explained that Buckeye Real Estate has never faced any legal issues regarding injuries which occurred on slick surfaces. He believes that pedestrians use more caution when the sidewalks aren’t cleared, and this helps keep them safer than carelessly walking on sidewalks that have been cleared off.

“If sidewalks are maintained, people tend to develop a false sense of security that makes them feel safer,” Mickley said.

Although real estate companies have legally withdrawn their right from clearing sidewalks, many students still have concerns regarding the slick surfaces. Witham said he believes someone should be responsible for keeping the sidewalks clean when winter weather strikes.

“It’s dangerous that sidewalks won’t be cleared, since realtors don’t claim responsibility and college students don’t have the time to,” Witham said. “Someone should take initiative. (Real estate agencies) should be responsible.”

Ivo Ivanoff, a third-year in German, said he believes the sidewalks off campus are dangerous when covered by a slick surface, and that the snow and ice should be removed in some way.

“It’s troubling and dangerous. You have to be careful,” Ivanoff said. “You would think someone would clean the sidewalks whether it was the residents, the real estate agency or the city.”

The main reason for clearing sidewalks is to keep a safe environment for pedestrians walking during the winter. When the sidewalks remain covered in snow and ice, the chance of slipping and causing injury is much higher.

“I’m surprised (no one clears the sidewalks),” Ivanoff said. “What happens when someone breaks something after slipping and falling? Someone has to pay the bill.”

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