Might Naples budget support sidewalk snow removal?

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — If the temperatures in the Lake Region had been a little bit colder these past few days, residents would be digging out.

And, as has been the case for years, the snow would cover the sidewalks on the Naples Causeway.

One Naples resident said she would like to see the snow removed from the Causeway sidewalks so that people could walk there in the winter, and enjoy the infrastructure that belongs to the townspeople.

The Naples town manager said the snow removal on the Causeway sidewalks and boardwalk is doable, but somewhat cost-prohibitive. Additionally, environmental concerns would have to be taken into consideration — if snow removal were to be done there.

It is an item, a service, that has not been included in the Town of Naples budget for many years.

Resident Sara Wasson would like for the removal of snow and ice from the Causeway sidewalks to be a reality.

“I was fortunate enough to install flooring in my home. It is expensive and I keep an eye on it,” Wasson said.

Likewise, “we installed a beautiful walkway a few years ago” and why cannot the Town of Naples remove the snow to keep it walkable and to better maintain it, she asked.

Wasson brought her cause to the Naples Board of Selectmen during public participation time on Monday.

“I don’t know if anyone else here was surprised that we did not have snowplowing,” she said.

“We put in a very expensive walkway,” she said adding that people in the community had put in hours and time on the Causeway Restoration Committee.

She said she had noticed spots where the sidewalk was pocked and she suspected the damage was from being exposed to the elements.

“One way to preserve it is to plow it so that ice doesn’t get into the concrete,” she said.

“I am discouraged to hear that we did not get plowing last year,” she said. “I want to have plowing on the Causeway.”

Selectman Christine Powers spoke on the familiar topic.

“We have had many discussions about plowing that. It is cost-prohibitive and less protective because of the salt and sand” that would be used during the snow-removal process, Powers said.

“I could see that sand would be destructive,” Wasson said. “But how about a snow blower?”

She suggested that Caretake America, the company which maintains the landscaping on the Causeway from spring through autumn, take on the task of snow removal in the winter.

She advocated for “snow blowing on the Causeway.”

Chairman Bob Caron II said, “We understand what you are saying,” but her two minutes speaking time was up and she should not continue talking anymore.

Selectman Kevin Rogers had responded while Wasson was speaking. At the same time, Caron was asked to use the gavel to stop Wasson who had already exceeded the two minutes allotted.

When the room quieted down, Rogers said, “It has been a topic for a long time.”

Caron offered to put Causeway snow removal on the agenda for the next meeting in two weeks, which is Dec. 12.

On Tuesday morning, Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said that the topic of snow removal on the Causeway walking area is one that comes up now and then.

It does cost more than snowplowing because it requires the use of a snow blower and the use of a truck to take away the snow so that the snow does not contaminate Long Lake or Brandy Pond, he said.

In order for sidewalk snow removal to happen on the Causeway, it would have to be placed on the budget and approved by the voters at Town Meeting, he said.

But, at this point in time, the service is not being considered by the Naples Budget Committee.

There are a few reason to keep the status quo, he said. The snow insulates and protects the sidewalk, Paraschak said. Products that melt the ice — so people could walk on maintained areas — would actually do damage to the sidewalks, he said.

He addressed another one of Wasson’s concerns.

The damage or discoloration of the boardwalk (closest to the float plane business) happened when the concrete was placed, Paraschak said. The stamped concrete was a lighter color than proposed for the project, and the boardwalk was stained to darken it, he said.

That section of boardwalk will be improved next summer, he said.

“It may be that it has to be stained every few years,” he said.

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