It’s another warm and sunny day for December, but the snows will be coming soon. Sean Roche recently wrote an opinion piece “Walkers get short end of the shovel” published in the Newton Tab. Roche writes on the proposal to have home owners required to clear snow from sidewalks abutting their property and sarcastically adds that people should have to clear the streets as well.
In all seriousness, what does it say about Newton that the needs of pedestrians are so underserved by the town that we have to dragoon townsfolk to provide an essential service?
While I question his assertion that city streets are clear and dry within hours using the streets by my home as exhibit #1, I do agree that relying on property owners to clear sidewalks of snow leads to inconsistent and unsafe conditions. Roche cites examples of sidewalks cleared only a shovel width and snow trampled down into an uneven layer of thick ice. Property owners clearing their driveways and city-operated snow plows both dump additional piles of snow on the sidewalk. The situation is unfair and unsafe.
Not mentioned in the article is who is responsible for clearing sidewalks in front of empty lots? I live on a rather steep hill and the sidewalk in front of an empty lot halfway up the hill is treacherous in ice and snow. Furthermore, sidewalks that do no abut private property, such as on bridges, are never cleared of snow. Shouldn’t the city be responsible for clearing these sidewalks?