The latest round of fiscal year 2023 budget discussions for the Village of Flossmoor included a request from the Flossmoor Hills and Highlands Civic Association to clear certain sidewalks of snow in those neighborhoods.
Village Manager Bridget Wachtel presented the request Monday, March 21, to the Flossmoor Village Board as an “additional funding” consideration for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget because it goes beyond current services. The association asked for several rear-yard walkways along Flossmoor Road to be clear because that area is used by students to get to the high school.
Wachtel noted the village has received requests on Dixie Highway to the downtown area from commuters. It also fulfilled requests it received years ago from residents in Pinewood Manor to clear the sidewalk in rear yards along Kedzie Avenue for children to walk southbound to school, as well as the area around the concession stand in Flossmoor Park, according to Wachtel.
Public Works Director John Brunke noted staff currently spends eight hours on roughly 1.6 miles of sidewalk the village has agreed to clear. The proposed new sections would be on the north side of Flossmoor Road between Hamlin Avenue and Kedzie Avenue, as well as between Carroll Parkway and Dixie Highway. It would be a total of 1.1 miles for a roughly six-hour commitment, Brunke said.
He presented the board with one option to do the work in the same eight-hour span, which would require more equipment and more manpower, making it the more expensive option estimated to be $63,086 the first year and $27,086 annually after that. If the village waits until the following day, the same equipment and personnel could be used to keep costs lower at $5,086 annually.
“The biggest catch with that option is there has to be an expectation that those sidewalks aren’t going to be cleared for at least a day, two days, after a storm event,” Brunke said.
Brunke said commuter traffic has typically been the first priority for Flossmoor. Wachtel noted that schools have the ability to move to remote learning in severe weather, so the village did not need to meet an eight-hour standard.
Trustee Joni Bradley-Scott said she thought the next-day option would be “the better first step.”
Trustee Rosalind Henderson Mustafa added that she thinks it could be “a real positive.”
Wachtel noted if the village decides to meet the request, she would expect more requests to come in. Trustee James Mitros, who also asked how the village planned to pay for the extra service and what would happen if there were “exceptional” snow seasons, said he worries about that possibility.
“Where does it end, though?” he said. “I can think of a lot of streets that would love to have this.”
Mayor Michelle Nelson asked about the possibility of contracting the work, as Flossmoor School District 161 does for snow removal. Brunke said it would help with staff time, but he was not sure about costs.
Village Attorney Kathleen Orr noted there are some liability issues if the village opts to do the sidewalk but doesn’t do it well.
The item was presented only for discussion. No decision was made on March 21.