Paul Tinkerhess and his wife, Claire, walk daily from their home in the Water Hill neighborhood to their Kerrytown area business, Fourth Ave Birkenstock. Last winter’s harsh weather gave him plenty of time to think about the haphazard care of icy residential sidewalks and snow-covered street corners. Thus, was born SnowBuddy, a nonprofit, volunteer sidewalk and ramp clearing service to augment the neighborhood’s individual homeowner maintenance this winter.
“SnowBuddy has a two-part purpose,” says Tinkerhess. “The first is to create a model of safe sidewalks in one neighborhood; the second is to ask the city if it might be in the best position to maintain its transportation corridors, including the sidewalk.”
Though property owners are supposed to clear sidewalks, enforcement is on a complaint basis, and days can pass while a property remains uncleared. “Sidewalks should be maintained by modern, efficient equipment,” Tinkerhess contends.
Tinkerhess is no stranger to big DIY projects–a few years ago, he created the Water Hill Music Fest, which gave his neighborhood its name (and some newfound cachet). SnowBuddy, at press time, had exceeded its goal of $18,000 for the first payment on a $43,000 snow tractor, plus insurance and printing expenses, by nearly $2,000. The additional donations, Tinkerhess says, will go toward next year’s operations.