Sidewalk Snow Ordinance Update: February

The proposed sidewalk snow ordinance, now a two-year trial with an educational effort rather than tickets and fines, was docketed for the Finance Committee, chaired by Ald. Lenny Gentile, on Valentine’s Day, Monday, February 14.

However, Ald. Vicki Danberg asked  that it be held. This will make the Finance vote Monday, March 14, and the full board vote on Monday, March 21.

Your cards and letters supporting the ordinance are critical.

Letters can be sent to the Board of Aldermen via email, to dolson@newtonma.gov. A copy to the TAB would also be extremely helpful.

Aldermen have voiced concerns about the “burden” and “cost” this ordinance shifts to the residents. They need to hear from supporters that this burden is currently borne by the city’s pedestrians: those who cannot afford a car, are too young/old to drive one, are visually impaired or navigate with a heavy wheelchair. Their costs are being shut-in, putting themselves in harm’s way, or having to hire taxis to navigate a city with sidewalks blocked by snow.

Another concern is the city’s plows putting snow on corners & making snow clearance from sidewalks difficult. You can help the city to do its job better, by calling 3-1-1 from your landline, 617-796-1000 from your cell, or using the 311 system online.

For more information please email newtonsidewalks@gmail.com.

Sidewalk Snow Ordinance Letter to the Newton TAB

The following Letter to the Editor was published in the February 16, 2011 Newton TAB, available online at Wicked Local Newton.

Let’s make our sidewalks safer in winter and keep walkers out of our streets. For these reasons, the League of Women Voters of Newton supports the sidewalk snow ordinance and strongly urges the Board of Aldermen to vote for the proposed two-year trial. This ordinance will improve safety for all winter walkers: students traveling to and from school; residents walking to work or to train or bus stops for their commute; those who can’t or choose not to drive; and hardy souls out walking or jogging for health and pleasure.

The proposed snow ordinance has undergone important amendments in response to feedback.  It imposes no fines during the two-year trial that would begin November, 2011.   The required clearance width has been reduced from 48” to 36” and the time for compliance has been extended to 30 hours from the end of the storm. The current proposal also protects those who are unable to shovel and unable to afford snow removal services. The City currently provides the names of volunteers willing to help qualifying individuals, and so far this year volunteers have satisfied all requests from qualified households.

More progress to eliminate snow heaped on sidewalks and improve sidewalk curb cut clearance is still needed, and the city is committed to continuing to improve its enforcement of current snow ordinances, especially preventing sidewalk snow mounds.   We believe this renewed commitment, combined with the trial effort to clear residential sidewalks, should give Newtonians time to come together to dig ourselves out of our annual snow issues.

Our study of surrounding communities found that residential snow ordinances dramatically improve sidewalk safety.  We can make this happen in Newton too.   We ask the Board of Aldermen to support this trial and make our sidewalks safer in winter for everyone in our city.

–Gail Glick
Spokesperson, League of Women Voters of Newton

Safe Sidewalks Ordinance Amendments

Current amendments to the proposed sidewalk snow ordinance are to make the required sidewalk width to be cleared 36″ rather than 48″, and for the length of time from the end of a storm to full clearance to increase from 24 hours to 30 hours (properties in business districts would still need to clear in 24 hours). At this point, the proposal is for a trial period with no fines. Your support is critical. Letters can be sent to the Board of Aldermen via email, to dolson@newtonma.gov. For more information please email newtonsidewalks@gmail.com.

Public Hearing for Snow Removal Ordinance

Come show your support for safe, clear sidewalks year round.  The proposed sidewalk snow removal ordinance will be  the subject of a Public Hearing, Wednesday, November 17, at 7:00 pm, in the Aldermanic Chamber.  Come voice your support!! If you can’t come to the meeting, please send a letter of support to the Board via email, to dolson@newtonma.gov.   For more information please email newtonsidewalks@gmail.com.

Open letter to Mayor Warren

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.

–Gail Glick
Spokesperson, League of Women Voters of Newton

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