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Newton Considers Fining Residents Who Don’t Shovel

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV
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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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NEWTON (CBS) — Today the sidewalks in Newton are clear. But if they are covered with snow come next month, somebody could be getting a ticket in the mail.

Meter maids like Maureen Doucette could soon be checking out neighborhoods, looking for homeowners breaking the law.

Capt. Howard Mintz is with the Newton Police Department. “The parking control officers are not utilized during a snow emergency because meters are not in effect and schools are closed, so it would give them something to do.”

The proposed by law would work this way: 24 hours after a snowstorm, Newton residents would be required to shovel a 48-inch path on their sidewalk or face a $50 fine.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren supports the proposed town bylaw. He also agrees with the proposed fine for able-bodied residents. “I believe….yes…I believe we should have some mechanism in place to encourage residents to shovel their side walks.”

Mayor Warren says there is a list on the towns’ website of contractors and volunteers who would help the elderly and disabled, but when the snow flies, Alderman Charlie Shapiro says elderly residents may not ask for help. “I am concerned that if the city tells seniors that they are now responsible for going out and shoveling their walk, where they were not responsible before, that is an additional physical and financial and possibly liability issue.”

Newton residents are talking about the issue.

“I actually understand both sides, but I support the law because I have two kids who walk to school every day and have to walk in the street sometimes,” said one mother.

However, an elderly man who is planning a long Christmas vacations has his doubts. “Well it is bit complicated…what happens when you go away?”

Good question, but this issue is not going away and will be voted on in the coming weeks.

Newton’s 24 alderman could vote on the by law as early as January 5, and right now, 13 are on record as favoring it.

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