Residents Sign Letter Opposing Snow Ordinance
The proposed ordinance could create a fine for residents who do not shovel their walks after a storm.
According to a letter dated Nov. 22 (see attached .pdf), some residents are concerned with a possible amendment to the current ordinance that would require homeowners to shovel sidewalks outside their house within 24 hours of a storm, or else face a $50 fine.
"We appreciate this city, have grown up in this city and have raised our families in this city," the letter reads. "We believe in the community of this city and are opposed to this ordinance which seems divisive at best."
In the letter, the residents argue that some people in the city are not physically able to shovel their driveways, or have been instructed by their doctors not to do so.
More than 10 people who signed the petition have had heart attacks, the letter reads.
"Not everyone is young and agile," said Beacon Street resident Dorothy Roberts, who signed the letter.
Although the city has said they are compiling a list of workers and volunteers who would shovel driveways for those who cannot, the letter questions whether it would be enough to clear all the necessary driveways within the 24 hour period after a storm.
At a public hearing last month, nearly 40 residents stood up to show both support and concern for the proposed ordinance.
Proponents say the sidewalk clearing is necessary for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, especially children who walk to school.
At a time where pedestrian accidents seem almost commonplace in Newton, the ordinance is part of a town-wide initiative to improve safety for those who use alternative forms of transportation.
Not only are uncleared sidewalks a danger for children and people walking to public transportation, they are also a hazard for people with disabilities, proponents say.
The measure is supported by several city organizations including PTO Council, the Newton League of Women Voters,Green Decade, Bike Newton, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force and the Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities.
And while the residents who signed the letter agree that the ordinance is an issue of city safety, clearing sidewalks should be something that should be "appreciated rather than required," as many people already do it simply because "it's the right thing to do."
"In gesture, it's a nice idea to think that everybody is in a position financially or physically (to clear the sidewalks)," Roberts said.
The letter also raises questions as to where the shoveled snow would go--especially in neighborhoods with houses built close together--and what enforcement there would be to prevent snow from being dumped back onto properties.
Kimball Terrace resident Ralph Stanley explained that the ordinance is just another item on a list of burdens put on by the city, including parking problems with the new high school and past snow plowing procedures.
"I've put up with enough," Stanley said.
"Our taxes are very high, and services keep getting cut and it's too bad that the city can't go back to assuming its responsibilities of keeping what is their property not the homeowners," Roberts added.