By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV

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.

Comments (17)
  1. mark says:

    wrong that the towns problem. they put them in

  2. mark says:

    if they cut my grass in the summer then it would be ok

  3. A Bowman says:

    Newton would be the 12th community to enact such an ordinance. We are definately not breaking any ground. We have nearly 30% of our adult population that does not have access to a car and thus relies on using sidewalks year round. While many residents shovel their sidewalks and the city shovels some, it is not nearly enough to make it safe for those needing the sidewalks. It is unacceptible to leave these people to fend for themselves in the street. For those that can’t shovel and can’t afford to hire someone, arrangements will be made. For everyone else who doesn’t shovel, you already do your driveway and walk way, why can’t you do your sidewalks too?

  4. cynic says:

    Hey Newton….The side walks belong to you….Shovel the damn things. What do you think taxes are for?

  5. Cynic says:

    I read somewhere about equality under the Law….Or does that only apply to people that want nice clear streets for thier SUV’S

  6. Westbound says:

    sounds good to me…now why dont you go through the backlog of sidewalk repairs in the spring time and have them all done within 24 hours.

  7. Newton says:

    Wrong information – 36″. 30 hours, no fines the first year….. no doubt this misinformation came from alarmist Alderman Shapiro who like to work his audience into an emotional frenzy over injustice. The shocking idea – shoveling your sidewalk – is normal in societies that have advanced far enough to have invented the shovel.

  8. Newton Homeowner says:

    Wrong information – 36″. 30 hours, no fine the first (trial) year, no increase in liability for the homeowner. Newton’s City Attorney has explained the liability issue to Alderman Shapiro repeatedly, but he choosing to believe what he wants and rile up his audience in opposition.

  9. Newton Pedestrian says:

    Shame on WBZ for failing to mention that Newton is not doing anything unusual. 11 other communities within greater Boston already have snow ordinances including Boston and Brookline. Perhaps Alderman Shapiro will bring in the national media next?

  10. ROLFL says:

    Someone is going to have a heart attack while shoveling the side walk and sue the pants of the city. God knows there is no shortage of lawyers in Newton that will take the cas

  11. my achin back says:

    Good for alderman Shapiro. Is this the new tone of government Mayor Warren spoke of on his campaign trail?

  12. John Joseph Grimes says:

    If people in any town can shovel out their drivway and their back stairs for a clear path to their car then they can shovel their sidewalk. The complainers don’t give a damn about kids walking to school, people walking to the bus or the elderly walking to the store. They only think about themselves, period. I’ve seen people with snowblowers who wouldn’t do their entire property, much less,help an elderly neighbor. It’s called laziness, folks.

  13. emom says:

    Yeah they expect the towns folks to maintain and clean their sidewalks, you know the ones they installed and built………last I knew they belonged to the town, they installed them with your tax dollars,,,, I mean now they expect you to keep them clean and debris free… WOW THE NERVVE OF THEM TO ASSUME ITS OK TO HAVE THE TOWNS FOLKS TO DO ALL THAT, I CAN HEAR IT NOW LAWSUITS AFTER LAWSUITS OVER HEALTH ISSUES FROM DOING JUST THAT,, SHOVELING, CHIPPING, AND PLOWING, ALL TO NOT GET A FINE.. YUP AND WHO IN THE HECK WILL REIMBURSE THEM
    Not to mention that the money that installed these sidewalks came from the same towns folks thru their taxes, but now they are made to maintain the same sidewalks all because the town is lazy and cheap,, YEAH I SAID IT CHEAP LAZY POLITICIANS,,,,,, they save the money so they can line their gold pockets with it ,,,,, they have hired cheap labor and its free,, guess who got suckered in and guess who is laughing at their expense…… will no one ever learn politicians will do nothing for us,, but it sure seems they get us to do plenty…glad I live in a town that THEY PLOW THOSE SIDEWALKS,,, at least some are smart and do it right….

  14. Cynic says:

    Just what do we get for our taxes?….Fat retirements,Lifetime tax free disabilities, $200,000 a year Cops and as the King of Siam said….As so forth and so on…..!!!!

  15. joe says:

    Joe shortsleeve the cost to do the sidewalk is one dollar per linear foot per 2-5 inch storm. If the city does it it is $75.00 per household for the entire season and if the city does it it is zero liability .when the resident does it you get the slip and fall me if you want to hear more

  16. KF4766 says:

    When I was a kid, my father, grandfather and every other able-bodied resident in the city would shovel their sidewalks from property line to property line – no questions asked! They did it because they cared about each other and didn’t want to see the neighborhood children or elderly in harms way walking in the street. If they knew someone in the neighborhood was unable, they all pitched in and helped!

  17. Barrett says:

    We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

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