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Western Springs sidewalk poses snowy challenge to pedestrians, Lyons Township students

Sidewalks, drives and lots were clear Jan. 9 at the South Campus of Lyons Township High School in Western Springs. | Jane Michaels/Sun-Times Media 1/9/14
The sidewalk leading to Lyons Township High School remained blocked Jan. 9 on the west side of Willow Springs Road looking north to 47th Street. | Jane Michaels/Sun-Times Media 01/09/14
Pedestrians have to slog through a snow tunnel on the southwest corner of 47th Street and Willow Springs Road in Western Springs to reach a parking lot and Lyons Township High School to the south. | Jane Michaels/Sun-Times Media 01/09/14
The walk south to Lyons Township High School from 47th Street on the west side of Willow Springs Road in Western Springs. | Jane Michaels/Sun-Times Media 01/09/14
Pedestrians must slog through a snow bank to reach a parking lot and head south toward Lyons Township High School on the west side of Willow Springs Road, south of 47th Street. | Jane Michaels/Sun-Times Media 01/09/14
Sidwalk along the west side of Willow Springs Road, or Gilbert Avenue, has been cleared north of 47th Street. | Jane Michaels/Sun-Times Media 01/09/14

As another layer of snow fell Thursday, a La Grange mom hoped to avert problems for students sloshing their way to and from the Lyons Township High School South Campus in Western Springs.

Cheryl Ciecko said she has contacted officials from the school, Western Springs and La Grange about snow-packed sidewalks south of 47th Street along Willow Springs Road, which divides the two towns.

School workers did a good job of clearing the sidewalks, drives and lots before students returned to class Jan. 8, she said. Much of the snow on the east side was removed the following day, but the west side remained clogged.

Foot traffic packed down the southwest corner sidewalk at 47th and Willow Springs Road, or Gilbert Avenue as it’s called to the north. But the path heading south veered off into the Walgreens parking lot in several spots with the sidewalk impassable for the long stretch south to the school’s northern entrance.

“To me, it’s just common sense to get the sidewalks cleared if you want kids to cross at the light,” said Ciecko, who lives south of the campus and drives her son to school. “Why wouldn’t a path to the high school be a priority?”

Walgreens Manager Tom Boland said he contacted Western Springs officials Jan. 8 about the sidewalk.

Matt Supert, director of municipal services for Western Springs, said it’s the Garden Market Shopping Center’s responsibility to clear the sidewalk. The village assists in plowing the sidewalk south of the high school and along 47th Street west of Willow Springs Road, he said.

The village doesn’t require property owners to clear their sidewalks, or fine owners who don’t do so, Supert said.

A shopping center representative did not return phone calls.

Ciecko questioned whether it’s safe to funnel pedestrians through the shopping center parking lot, especially after dark when motorists could be backing out of parking spaces and not expecting people.

She also recalled a summertime tragedy of more than a decade ago when 13-year-old Emily Kandemir walked her bike across Willow Springs Road and was hit by a dump truck making a right turn on a red light.

“That was in nice weather,” Ciecko said. “We shouldn’t be waiting for somebody to walk in the street and slip under a car.”

Ciecko suggested the two villages consider a measure mandating snow removal routes for pedestrians and requiring property owners to clear a path. Enforcement would be a concept similar to the way motorists are banned from parking on certain streets so snowplows can clear major thoroughfares, she said.

“La Grange got out there and cleared the sidewalks on the east side, and they should be applauded,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

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