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Sidewalk Shoveling Requirement For Waltham?

The recent snowstorm left a lot of snow on city sidewalks and some residents did not clear the portions in front of their homes.

With the recent snowstorm dumping a heap of snow on the city's sidewalks, some Waltham Patch users have suggested an ordinance that requires residents to clear their sidewalks.

Currently, the city does not have such an ordinance. Main Street property owners, however, are required to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of snowfall ceasing. That regulation applies to both sides of the street from Prospect Hill Road to Linden Street.

Newton is currently considering extending a two-year trial period that requires all property owners to clear snow from their sidewalk within 30 hoursof the snow falling.

TELL US: Should Waltham adopt an ordinance to require property owners to shovel their sidewalks? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.  

Michel Provencher February 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM
We have residents that think this is their place to park a car.
Tinker Bell February 18, 2013 at 12:44 PM
This is not enforced in Newton. Also, if a Newton resident does not have a paved walk (gravel or grass) they are not required to shovel. Dumbest thing I have ever heard, but that is how it is done! Note: having the city install a cement/ paved sidewalk is an expense to the property owner, not the city. So the residents who pay for a decent sidewalk have to shovel and their neighbor with gravel does not.
Donnie Lucente February 18, 2013 at 01:58 PM
I just walked Main street from 128 to Moody and back, the sidewalks are pretty good except from Veronica's through Banks square. Hogan Tire area and corner of Palmer very dangerous. The Bank of America sidewalks on corner of Prospect Hill Road and Main are also not able to be walked on.
NANCY February 18, 2013 at 02:00 PM
PROPERTY OWNERS DO NOT OWN THE SIDEWALK OR THE STREET. THE CITY SHOULD PLOW BOTH.
GrampaJoe February 18, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Property owners also don't own the part of the street at the end of their driveways where the snow accumulates from the snowplows. Should the city be responsible for removing that too?
WendyM February 18, 2013 at 02:24 PM
I so wish we had a shoveling ordinance! Especially around the areas where a lot of residents walk- around Moody and Main St for example. I live off Moody and to get to the bus stop or walk to local businesses, every winter I have to walk in the street because the business on the corner of my street has never once shoveled the non-Moody St side of their property. In fact they pile up the show they do clear there! It is so ridiculously un-neighborly! Walking to the bus stop in the dark of early morning, pregnant, in the street.... I was sooo not a happy camper last winter. It's not safe for anyone! I don't think it's unreasonable for every property owner to clear snow or arrange for it to be done in 30 hours after a snow.
Robin * I Love Waltham* February 18, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Let’s all work together on this one. Where were the most impassable sidewalks? Was it rental property or commercial property? I would like to see the emergency worker attend to my family and neighbors quickly and safely. With power outages during snow storms and more emergency calls, having a safe passage way for everyone would be beneficial. I am aware of oil delivery companies that will not deliver to your property if there is no safe passage. Having our children walk safely on a side walk to attend school and not delay summer vacation is also a plus. Let’s not forget our elderly neighbors who are housebound when sidewalks are impassible. Can Meals on Wheels deliver food when the sidewalks are not clear?
David Kehs February 18, 2013 at 02:40 PM
An ordinance like this would be like an unfunded mandate. Supposedly, the city doesn't have the resources to clear all of the public sidewalks, so this ordinance would push the responsibility onto the residents. Remember that some property owners are elderly or disabled and are not physically capable of shoveling snow. Others may be out-of-town when a storm hits and unavailable for sidewalk shoveling. I suppose all those people would be expected to hire someone to clear the city-owned sidewalks in front of their properties. In answer to GranpaJoe's question, I clear the area at the bottom of my driveway so I can get my car from my driveway to the street. This is my choice. If I don't want to drive anywhere, I can leave the snow there until it melts. I don't expect the city to clear the bottom of my driveway. The city's responsibility is to make the road passable. I don't clear the sidewalk in front of my house. That snow is going to stay there until it melts. I don't think this is a safety hazard since I live on a side street that doesn't get much traffic. Schoolkids don't walk there to get to school or even to get to the bus (the parents seem to drive them to the bus stop). An ordinance like the one suggested here would just be an additional hardship for everyone in the neighborhood.
MH February 18, 2013 at 02:45 PM
I agree in principle, however, when side streets plow directly onto your sidewalk and adjoining property, I do not know how the property owner can be held accountable.
GrampaJoe February 18, 2013 at 03:28 PM
David, Owning a home or a business has inherent hardships. Keeping the sidewalk passable in front of it is one of them. You are fortunate that your philosophy to not clear your sidewalk doesn't create a hardship for anyone needing to use it. Perhaps your mailman has a different view. Maybe the police or fire department are delayed in getting into your home when the snow is so deep on your sidewalk that it hinders them in their efforts to come to your aid.
Tim Hill February 18, 2013 at 04:21 PM
The ordinance is a great idea in principle, but in reality it is hard to enforce. However, a combination of common courtesy, common sense and pride are usually suffice. Most people know that people need sidewalks for safe passage, especially when the roads are slippery, and for that reason most people shovel their sidewalks. It is my experience that individuals often shovel their neighbor's sidewalks if their neighbors are unable to do so or if they are better equipped than their neighbors (snow blower vs. shovels). Also, I don't think that the city owns the portion of each lot near the street. My understanding is that the homeowner owns the property and that the city automatically given an easement on the first five feet.
Saul Blumenthal February 18, 2013 at 05:09 PM
David, by not shoveling the sidewalk in front of your property, and by your neighbors similarly not shoveling theirs, you are forcing pedestrians onto the street, creating hazardous conditions for both pedestrians *and* drivers.
Noto Traffic February 18, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Has someone from the city gone out to give a citation to these businesses? Isn't it an ordinanace? Where are the city councillors now . . . . . . . . . . . .
Noto Traffic February 18, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Maybe the schoolkids' parents wouldn't have to drive them if they could walk past your house safely.
Noto Traffic February 18, 2013 at 05:44 PM
What happens if its a bus stop that is at the corner of a city park and both ways are city property (sidewalks). Does the city cite itself? They city has to clear bus stops for the kids, end of story!!!!
SilverCan984 February 18, 2013 at 05:58 PM
I'm sorry gramps, I've read through all of your comments on this issue, and I'm left shaking my head after each one. You're not making much sense today.
Marie Daly February 18, 2013 at 06:39 PM
The city has not cleared the sidewalks in front of its own proprerty on Trapelo Road, including the Lawrence School (home of the school maintenance department), and the Mackerel Hill park area. Clearly the priorities should be near schools first, but after that the sidwalks in front of other city properties should be plowed. 2 feet of snow is onerous for elderly and disabled residents. The city should plow the busiest and most dangerous roads for pedestrians, like Trapelo Rd, Waverley Oaks Rd, Forest St., and Beaver St. to mention a few. Pedestrians really risk their lives if they walk on these roads. The side roads are less of problem.
David Kehs February 18, 2013 at 06:44 PM
GrampaJoe, I don't understand your issues concerning the police department, the fire department, and the letter carrier. Of course, I clear my front steps and I clear a path from my front door to the street. Access is not blocked. I get my mail without forcing the letter carrier to jump through snow banks. I don't know where you get the idea that keeping the city's sidewalk passable is the obligation of the homeowner. That's why the issue is being discussed. "Noto traffic": Parents drive their kids to the bus stop even when there's no snow on the ground. The school bus pulls up and the doors to a bunch of SUVs pop open and the kids get on the bus. It wasn't like that when I was a kid... One of the Waltham city councilors lives one street over from me. On the same street is the home of a Waltham police officer (or two). These individuals have also chosen not to shovel the sidewalks in front of their homes. Would you say that they are creating hazardous conditions in the neighborhood?
WendyM February 18, 2013 at 06:46 PM
This is so inconsiderate! Yes, everyone should clear the sidewalk in front of their house, business, rental property, whatever. If that requires you hiring a company or neighbor kid to do it, or asking your neighbors for assistance because you can't, then yes, you should have to do it. This is one of my biggest pet peeves! Be a good neighbor!
GrampaJoe February 18, 2013 at 07:01 PM
David, if anyone is FORCED to walk in the street because of an unshoveled sidewalk then I would say a hazardous condition is being created. Whether the city is responsible (which I don't agree with) or the business or homeowner, it should'nt matter. Since there is no "law" in place I would say the neighbors that you mentioned are indeed creating a hazardous condition. The majority of posts here seem to agree that the sidewalks should be cleared, and that it is the reponsibility of the business, homeowner. How about those who are handicapped? Relegated to a wheelchair? The blind? If it's not an ordinance, it is at least irresponsible and inconsiderate.
Jamie Sarkisian February 18, 2013 at 07:12 PM
How do you select which streets / sidewalks ? I live on a cul de sac and there is 60 yards of sidewalk to clear. The street has 3-4 cars per day that turn around. It would take 3-4 hours to shovel because the snow is stacked from the plow. My suggestion is use this forum to have Waltham residents take pictures of businesses not doing a good job of shoveling. Bad PR is a great incentive to do a good job.
Noto Traffic February 18, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Do people really walk down these streets?
Clara February 18, 2013 at 08:34 PM
There should be a fine for the owner of the property between CVS and Wendy's its an ice skating narrow path that people have to maneuver.. And just so happens its where the crossing signal for main to Bacon st is located.
Joseph G. Paquette February 18, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Yes, period. If you want to see the WRONG WAY to meet neighbor to neighbor requirements ... observe the Bishops Condo complex long sidewalk with the trees and see how the sidewalk was clearly torn through the middle with the snow piled to the left and the right and just left on the public street.
Robert Hachey February 18, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Watertown has a snow removal policy and it seems that their sidewalks are usually in far better shape than those here in Waltham. There should be some sort of waiver program such that the elderly and disabled can be exempt from the policy. I am totally blind and normally choose not to try the sidewalks until a few days after a big storm like the one we jus had. I was out on Friday, Feb. 15 and was surprised to have to walk in Maine Street between Petrol Plus gas station and Wendy's. That was six days after the storm and, given the warm weather that we had I can only imagine how much worse it was earlier in the week. My two biggest problems with sidewalks are bus stops and walk buttons. Sometimes I've noticed that it was necessary to climb atop large snow banks in order to push the button. The MBTA says that cities and towns are responsible for clearing bus stops. I called Public Works daily to complain about stop at the corner of Maine and Exchange Streets with no results. My wife had to wait in Maine Street every day last week for bus no. 70. When she returned home at night she had to climb over snow to push the walk button. Waltham has many good qualities. But I'm afraid that Waltham stands at or near the back of the pack when it comes to snow removal.
Sarah February 18, 2013 at 09:58 PM
We were able to clear part of our side walk before the plows came along and filled in what we had done. That kind of took the wind out if our sails. We live on a main road with a small road that emptys across from our house. The same thing happens evey storm. We physically cannot remove snow that has been piled onto the sidewalk. There is just too much. There are a lot of people who cannot physically do this.
Marie Daly February 19, 2013 at 04:43 PM
People do walk on Trapelo Road all the time. But with unplowed sidwalks for long stretches of the road, they have to drive cars, stay home or risk being hit by cars. I saw a pedestrian trying to cross Beaver Street at Forest Street. The walk button had been plowed in. She had to dodge traffic to get across the street.
SM Humphreys February 19, 2013 at 04:59 PM
If you have a sidewalk in front of your house, it should be cleared. Especially on the main streets (i.e. Lake Street, Lexington Street, Bacon Street) these are streets with heavy traffic and walkers should not be forced to walk in the street. If an ordinance was put in place I'm sure the residents would help police it.
Robert Hachey February 21, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Yesterday, I had long talks with the Mayor and head of Public Works. They confirmed my suspicions as to why Waltham had problems dealing with the recent blizzard. IN past years, after big storms, the heavy equipment would come out. I could tell the heavy equipment was out because it vibrates the ground. Haven't felt that ground vibration after big storms for at least 5 years. The work that used to be done by 10 wheelers and front end loaders is now being done with 4 by 4 vehicles an pickup trucks with attached plows. That means when we get over a foot of snow in any one storm, we're in trouble. This is but one product of privatization. Fortunately, Mayor McCarthy has a heart. When I told her about the snowy bus stop I mentioned in my previous comment, she made sure it was cleared. She has promised to revise snow removal contracts such that providers are paid by the inch of snow rather than by hours worked. She has also promised to require that snow removal contractors have heavy equipment ready to deal with large storms like the recent blizzard. But this will cost money and I hope that the needed funs will be available.
TheHam February 22, 2013 at 06:58 PM
All I know is my street is filled with illegals, which has gone from being my worst nightmare to a savior. NO COPS, EVER! It's because they can't enforce the laws, they don't bother even driving down the street. It's not illegal to be illegal or do illegal things in MA anymore.....shoveling a sidewalk is laughable at this point considering enforcement of laws are pretty much non existent. All I have to say is I love being able to shoot my pistol and shotgun any time I hear one of those illegals next door and know that I will have zero reprocussions due to my location in waltham. Just a rambling thought from me to you..

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