Request for a Residential Snow Shoveling Ordinance

January 14, 2003
Watertown Town Manager and Town Council
149 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472
To the Town Manager and Town Council:
Watertown has an ordinance requiring snow and ice removal from sidewalks in front of businesses in business districts but the ordinance does not extend to residential districts. It's just considered a neighborly thing for residents to do and it's assumed they will do it.
My wife and I have lived in our home in Watertown for four years now and have reached the limit of our tolerance for our neighbors who refuse to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice. We chose to live here because we could walk to stores, restaurants, the bus, and other services. But in winter, particularly this year, those walks become treacherous, especially for my wife who is pregnant and for our two-year-old, whether walking or in the stroller. I have tried contacting certain neighbors personally (including the Oakley Country Club). At best I have been able to get them to clear their walks after a couple of calls but the next time it snows they do not clear again. Each time I want to take my daughter to the library, I should not have to plan ahead by calling a dozen residents of School Street. Each time I need to take the bus I should not have to call the Country Club or three homeowners on Belmont Street.
It is time for the town to extend the ordinance to residences. The City of Cambridge ordinance could serve as a model. Cambridge provides an exemption for disabled and elderly residents. I have attached the summary of the Cambridge ordinance taken from their web site.
I look forward to your action on this issue.
Cambridge Sidewalk Snow & Ice Removal Ordinance
The City's Sidewalk Snow & Ice Removal Ordinance requires Cambridge property owners to remove snow from all sidewalks next to their property or business within 12 hours after snow stops falling in the daytime, and before 1 p.m. when the snow has fallen during the night. Property owners must also clear ice off sidewalks or treat them with an ice-melting substance within 6 hours of the time the ice forms. Please make sure catch basins are clear of snow and debris so they can work properly and control flooding.
If your home or business is on a corner, please shovel an opening from the sidewalk to the street. If your business is next to a crosswalk, please shovel an opening wide enough to enable persons with strollers or in a wheelchair to get onto the sidewalks safely! Also, don’t forget to shovel the side-street sidewalk as well as the sidewalk in front of your business.
Make openings in snow banks between the streets and sidewalks at crosswalks, street corners and bus stops.
Sidewalk Hotline: 617-349-4903, TTY 617-349-4805
Help keep the City's 225 miles of sidewalk safe by reporting unshovelled or icy sidewalks to the Snow Hotline. Please leave an accurate address.
Snow Exemption Program: 617-349-6220 or TTY 617-349-6050.
Homeowners with a low income who are disabled or elderly may qualify for the City's Snow Exemption Program. For more information, call the Council on Aging (COA) at above number.

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