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What Happens When Homeowners Don't Clear Their Sidewalks?

A reader asked about the town's rules related to sidewalk-shoveling, particularly when said sidewalks are where children wait for the bus.

A reader recently asked us the following question: "What happens when homeowners don't clear their sidewalks, more than 24 hours after a snow storm, and their sidewalks happen to be a bus stop for elementary school students?"

The short answer: there's no bylaw in Westborough that imposes penalties on residents who don't shovel their walkways: regardless of whether said sidewalks are near a school.

The longer answer: According to John Walden, manager of the Department of Public Works, the town clears the main road and the school walking sidewalks. At one point, the town stopped requiring resident to clear their walks because of the burden on the elderly.

Town Manager Jim Malloy clarified further: "We tried re-establishing (the shoveling bylaw) about two years ago and Town Meeting voters voted down the requirement that they shovel their sidewalks, so whether residents do or don't is up to them.

"We do shovel some sidewalks but can't do all of them; we neither have the staff or funding and road plowing is a higher priority during storms," Malloy continued.

TBH February 04, 2013 at 05:59 PM
This is crazy. It is a matter of public safety. Children and adults should not be forced to walk on the streets. If the town decided on its own to stop enforcing the bylaw, why then is it up to the residents whether or not to reinstate it? Neighbors should look out for the elderly and help with the shoveling...at least that's the way it used to work. The elderly could also be made exempt from fines. The town installed these sidewalks for the benefit of all residents. It should be incumbent upon the homeowner to maintain them. When one or more do not shovel, it makes it nearly impossible walk on even the shoveled walks. When a homeowner leaves a mound of snow on the edges of their driveways, it forces pedestrians off a shoveled walkway back into the street. Since when does it make sense to let people vote on a matter of general public safety? Do we vote on whether to have crossing guards as well?

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