This Minneapolis man clears snow for neighbors and he thinks you should too

Published 5:56 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

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By Feven Gerezgiher

Every year, north Minneapolis resident Paul Skrbec invites neighbors with snowblowers to join his “snowblower challenge:” Go a little farther and clear sidewalks for the whole block.

Skrbec is 52 and retired but said that every winter since 1994, barring some years living out-of-state, he has removed snow for neighbors.

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“The idea is for people who do have that ability to do so to be kind to their neighbors and to help them out,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of neighbors that are elderly, and they maybe can’t shovel very well, but yet the street needs to be accessible for people. And so this is a kind of an effort to have people do that.”

Skrbec said the challenge has taken off since the pandemic started. In recent years, he’s gotten more responses on social media and noticed more neatly plowed stretches of sidewalk in the neighborhood.

He said the challenge even can be a fun competition.

“I had another neighbor that was directly across the street from me. I would get out and he would get out roughly around the same time. It was almost like a little bit of a competition to see who could get done fastest and get the most of the neighbors’ snow done,” Skrbec said.

On Thursday, the Minneapolis City Council voted to conduct an analysis of a possible citywide snow removal program for municipal sidewalks. Skrbec said instead that the city could keep sidewalks accessible by incentivizing homeowners to permanently take on a “snowblower challenge” with tax credits or other tangible benefits.

“I think they could get a lot of work done by people who want to take care of their neighborhoods. And you know, I’m in a neighborhood, right here in north Minneapolis, where everybody in the neighborhood wants to take care of everybody else.”