Sidewalk snow shoveling ordinance discussed in Coventry

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — While the Coventry Town Council had already planned a to discuss the proposed ordinance for Monday evening, a fatal hit and run early Monday morning imposed a new sense of urgency:  the council considered requiring residents to clear snow from sidewalks in front of their houses.

“Obviously it should be done for good citizen behavior. But I think, in reality, it’s just something that’s not practical,” Council President Glenfold Shibley contributed to the discussion.

The proposed ordinance would include a warning the first time a resident did not shovel. A second offense holds a $250 fine and for a third offense, a $500 fine.

Shibley called the proposal unenforceable. “I think the police department and building inspectors have many more things to do,” he said.

The council president added that he was not certain if a cleared sidewalk would have prevented the Sunday night’s tragedy that left a 19-year-old dead. 

Matthew O’Gara was walking on Arnold Road when he was hit just before 12:30 a.m. Monday.

He was transported to Kent Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Shibley said he couldn’t support the ordinance but could promote safety on the road.

“Try to stay out of the street, don’t walk in the dark, in a major snow storm, at 12:30 in the morning,” he said.

Councilors agreed that with or without the ordinance, a public campaign encouraging residents to clear their sidewalks should occur.