The Hyattsville City Council passed two measures last night dealing with snow removal from city sidewalks.
One measure made the city's sidewalk snow removal law more flexible. The other measure created a snow removal assistance fund to help income-qualified seniors and persons with disabilities to clear public sidewalks which line their properties.
City officials will now be able to lift the 24-hour window which residents have to clear snow from their sidewalks, but only during extreme winter weather events. The measure was passed unanimously.
Still unknown is how city officials would be able to communicate such an easing of restrictions during a snowstorm to city residents who don't have access to the internet. Mayor Marc Tartaro floated the idea of buying and installing one or two digital billboards in high traffic locations in the city, but said that such a suggestion would have to wait until the next budget cycle.
The snow removal assistance fund, passed by a vote of 6-1 with Councilor Tim Hunt (Ward 3) voting against, set aside a $12,000 grant to be given to a yet-to-be determined non-profit organization which would pay to clear snow from the sidewalks of eligible seniors and people with disabilities.
The exact details on who would and would not qualify for the program still have to be nailed down, but a memo from Community Services Director Abby Sandel suggests an eligibility requirement of 200 percent above the federal poverty level–$22,300 for a one person household, $30,200 for a two person household–as well as a 60-years-old or older age requirement.
Queensbury Road resident and Code Enforcement Advisory Committee member Nina Faye said during last night's meeting that she was concerned about the number of people who would qualify for such a program.
Luckily, data from the United States Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey can provide a rough estimate, though the age and income brackets recorded by the survey don't exactly match up with the city's proposed eligibility requirements. The survey estimated that there were 248 residents living in the city of Hyattsville ages 65 and older who earn less than $25,000 per year.
Before the fund gets up and running, city officials will next have to issue a request for proposals to area non-profits who might be interested in managing the program.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the projected income levels needed to qualify for the snow removal fund assistance.