Feb Update Snow Clearing Issues, Public Hearing on Snow Shoveling, Alternating Parking Sides During Snow Emergencies

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Above: Linden Ave sidewalks after the plows came through

In this update:

  • Public Hearing on Snow Shoveling Laws
  • Snow Clearing Issues
  • Alternating Parking Sides During Snow Emergencies

Public Hearing on Snow Shoveling laws

Recently the Board of Aldermen passed, and the Mayor signed, a revised ordinance on snow shoveling in Somerville. The new ordinance comes after years of complaints that sidewalks are not cleared well enough for people – particularly elderly, people with disabilities, parents with strollers -- to walk freely around after a heavy snow. Here is a brief summary of the new regulations. The new law doubles fines for not shoveling and allows the City to shovel a sidewalk and then charge the homeowner or business for doing it (clean and lien). These parts were not controversial.

The new law also changed the time-frame within which one must shovel, from six daylight hours after the snow stops to either 10 PM if the snow stops during the day or 10 AM if the snow stops at night.

This change resulted in extensive criticism, mostly focusing on the lack of sufficient time for shoveling in the morning.

As a result, the Board of Aldermen (BOA) is re-examining the time frame for shoveling and will hold a public hearing this Tuesday, February 3, at 7 PM in the Aldermen’s Chambers on the second floor of City Hall. Anyone who wants to speak will be given two or three minutes. You can submit comments (and photos, too) to John Long, the City Clerk, at jlong@somervillema.gov.

Please share with me any thoughts you have about what is a reasonable time frame for shoveling sidewalks. I have also posted about this on my Facebook page where you can share your thoughts with others.

Snow clearing issues after the storm

Following the two feet of snow on Monday and Tuesday, January 26 & 27, Ward 5 residents did a great job of shoveling out their sidewalks. Thank you to everyone who worked hard so that people could walk by your house. The City DPW, as usual, did a great job of clearing the streets on Tuesday.

However, something happened on Wednesday that angered many residents and appears to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. City plows came through again to widen the streets, but in doing so they plowed lots of snow onto many residents' sidewalks. I’ve received emails and calls from a dozen Ward 5 residents, all of whom live on the even side of the street, complaining bitterly that after they had shoveled their sidewalks (and in some cases those of elderly neighbors as well), City plows came flying down their street and threw snow and big boulders of ice back onto their sidewalks, and even into their yards and walkways.

I have communicated this information to the Mayor, his staff, and the DPW Commissioner, and I will file Board orders at the next meeting to attempt to address this problem. DPW does a great job of clearing the streets but they should be more careful and go slower down side streets when widening the roadway after the storm ends.

Alternating Parking Sides during Snow Emergencies

Good news! The longstanding City policy of allowing parking only on the odd side of the street during a snow emergency, year after year, will be changed. Mayor Curtatone announced this week that the City will be moving to a system of alternating parking during the snow season, to take effect in future snow seasons. This is a long-overdue change. I have advocated since I became an Alderman a year ago for switching sides, odd and even, in alternate years so folks who live on the even side of the street do not have to bear an unfair share of the pain and the burden of cleaning up after snowstorms.


 

Sincerely,

Mark Niedergang

Ward 5 Alderman

617-629-8033

Mark@MarkNiedergang.com

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