The following Letter to the Editor was published in the November 17, 2010 Newton Tab, available online at Wicked Local Newton.
Thank you for your support of all-season pedestrian safety.
For more than 20 years, the League of Women Voters Newton has advocated for a sidewalk snow-clearing ordinance. Your recent administrative actions clear the way for that goal — which we support primarily because winter walking is otherwise dangerous or impossible. This fall, you have made the following clear to city administrators:
The city will clear sidewalks abutting all city properties.
Residents will be informed of the snow ordinance changes and be encouraged to clear the sidewalks abutting their property through multimedia avenues such as water bills, website and reverse-911 notification.
The Department of Public Works will make extraordinary efforts to ensure that corners and curb cuts do not get plowed under with piles of snow from the street, and do not remain that way if they are.
The Police Department will take an active enforcement role with residents and businesses that do not clear walks as regulated by city ordinances or dump snow on the sidewalks.
The Parks Department will compile a comprehensive list of people and contractors willing to clear sidewalks for a fee, and will also solicit volunteer help for those low-income residents who, for reasons of health, age or disability, cannot clear.
You are working closely with the superintendent of schools to ensure that walking safety en-route to all our schools is a top priority and will enlist all departments to assist in education around providing safe routes to schools.
We look forward to being able to use the City sidewalks year-round, walking our children and grandchildren to school safely, walking for needed exercise, and walking instead of driving to complete errands and visits.
We are also actively engaged in the effort to pass a residential sidewalk snow ordinance, along with members of Bike Newton, Green Decade, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force, the PTO Council/Safe Routes to School, and other groups. We applaud your efforts and those of our aldermen, most notably Vicki Danberg, to get a working ordinance in place.
Spokesperson, League of Women Voters of Newton