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Ice-covered alley frustrates Davenport business owner

The only way to access Ritzi Reruns is through an alley just north of the business. However, that alley is covered in inches of ice and compacted snow.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Off a busy Locust Street in Davenport, business inside Ritzi Reruns is slow.

"This is not going to go away in a day," said Sherry Hopkins.

Business is slow, because owner Sherry Hopkins' customers cannot get into the parking lot. 

"It's hard as concrete," Hopkins said. "People are getting stuck. People have been towed. People can't get in. We've had somebody lose a muffler, somebody pop a tire."

The only way to access Ritzi Reruns is through a parking lot, using an alley just north of the business. There is no available parking in front of the store on Locust Street.

Kathy Riojas, who has worked at Ritzi Reruns for about 13 years, cannot drive over the thick ice in the alley when she comes to work.

"This is the worst," Riojas said. "I haven't been able to park in the parking lot all week. I've had to park over at Happy Joe's because I can't get my car in there."

Hopkins said she called Davenport Public Works three weeks ago, asking if the City could plow the alley. But, Hopkins said the alley is outside her designated property line.

"They told me the only way they would is if the trucks couldn't get through," Hopkins said.

Hopkins said she called the public works department again, after her garbage service could not make it through the alley.

"They said that doesn't matter. We meant city trucks getting through," Hopkins said.

Then, Hopkins said she asked if her contractor, who she already hires to clear her business' parking lot, could also plow the alley.

"They said no, not on city property," Hopkins said.

Later, the Davenport Public Works told Hopkins she could have her contractor plow the alley, according to Hopkins. By that time, the ice was already too thick for her contractor to remove the ice, and the contractor did not have the right equipment to do so, Hopkins said.

According to this map on the City of Davenport's website, Ritzi Reruns' property is clearly marked with Hopkins' name holding the deed. There is "no information available" when clicking on the alley, which is shown outside Hopkins' property line, too.

According to the Davenport Public Works webpage, "Alleys are only cleared when necessary to support solid waste services for these reasons."

Davenport Public Works said in a statement to News 8 plowing alleys "has never been in the City of Davenport’s snow plan." Nicole Gleason, the public works director, confirmed in that statement the City will plow an alley if it impacts "City of Davenport solid waste pick-up."

Credit: City of Davenport
The City of Davenport's webpage states clearing alleys after a snow storm is "not fiscally responsible and diverts resources from other essential city services."

The City of Davenport Public Works webpage also states, "Clearing alleys long after a winter weather event ends is not fiscally responsible and diverts resources from other essential city services, such as pothole filling, clearing storm drains, preparing for spring flooding, and the next construction season."

The statement from the public works department also states, "many residents work together to either shovel their alley or hire a private contractor."

"I try to follow the rules, and they came back to bite me," Hopkins said. "I should have had it plowed, that’s on me, but I was told I couldn’t, so that’s why that’s a mess."

Hopkins believes clearing the alley is not her responsibility as a business owner, since her property line ends before the alley begins, she said.

This ice-covered alley is creating frustrations for Hopkins and her customers before they walk in the door to shop.

Hopkins said business has been slower since the ice covered the alley, and some customers have called the store saying specifically they could not make it into the parking lot, Hopkins said.

Hopkins said she is not looking for special treatment, but wants to establish a solution so the ice and snow does not accumulate in the future. Hopkins said she is willing to pay her contractor to plow her part of the alley if the city allows.