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Sidewalk Maintenance

My wife and I are avid runners in both summer and winter and love everything Melrose has to offer.  However, when it comes to running in the winter, it is next to impossible due to the poor quality of residents clearing the snow/ice from their respective properties.  Is there no by laws or accountability?  We try to run with a stroller and this week had to give up due to the inaccessibility of the city.  Some help would be greatly appreciated!
Josh Chace February 11, 2014 at 08:37 AM
Luckily there's plenty of places to run within a very short driving distance. Breakheart, Pine Banks, the High School. After 3 consecutive weeks of snow storms and the ice buildup, you can't expect to have the sidewalks 100% clear, especially for a stroller. I prefer to run at any of those locations due to lack of traffic, impediment, etc.
Steve Leibman February 12, 2014 at 09:27 AM
To help coordinate efforts that will make the sidewalks and streets more accessible, we've recently formed the Melrose Pedestrian and Bike Advisory Committee (see: http://www.cityofmelrose.org/Transportation.cfm ). The committee is composed of citizen volunteers with designated liaisons from city government and services. We'd welcome any additional energy and ideas you can bring to the group. Here are a few links I've found that are relevant to your comment: The following post on Mayor Dolan's blog has links to maps of sidewalks that are plowed by the city (mostly around schools): http://mayordolansblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/sidewalk-plow-routes/ Also, there are frequently statements like the following: "As always, please call our Snow Operations Center at 781-665-0142 with any problems or concerns." And finally, from a Snow Manual created by the DPW in FY 2010 ( http://www.cityofmelrose.org/FY10%20Snow%20Manual.pdf ): "Business owners are required by Ordinance to keep the sidewalk in front of their property clear of snow and ice. Property owners are requested to do the same." Cheers, Steve Leibman co-chair, Melrose Ped/Bike Advisory Committee
Tim Clapp February 12, 2014 at 07:42 PM
Thanks Steve! We'll definitely take a look and make the meetings! Thanks for the links too!
Josh Chace February 14, 2014 at 02:02 PM
I mean no offense by this but is there really a need for a special committee to defend the "rights" or bikers and pedestrians? Is this going to turn into a "tattle tail" group to point of "offenders" of the already in place Snow Removal Policy the city has? I don't think we need to start pointing fingers at the neighbors of the very city you reside in. Winter time is always trying to traffic both foot and four-wheeled but let's not waste the city's time and money on finking on people who may not have the means to keep their sidewalk clean every time it snows. If you're a runner or a biker, surely you have several viable options than frequenting areas that you deem to be treacherous?
Tim Clapp February 14, 2014 at 07:06 PM
To answer quickly, yes there is a need. Telling my kids not to trust crosswalks or walk signals isn't right is it? Drivers frequently look right at you and then proceed to speed through the crosswalk. Safety I don't think is a waste of anyone's time is it! I come from a much colder climate with more snow and had little to no issues as there was accountability. Is being responsible for your own property appropriate? If you have the means to own your house, you gave the means to take care of it. I wasn't even familiar with the fact that there is a policy as it's non-existent in terms actions. I am not talking about pointing fingers or tattling, just being responsible for your property and look looking out for your fellow neighbours.
Josh Chace February 15, 2014 at 03:43 PM
I think you may be exaggerating slightly and off topic a tad but I respect your opinion. As a runner myself, I don't expect to have completely clear sidewalks during winter months but I think the city has done a great job with its limited staff versus the seemingly unlimited amounts of snow (more of which is falling today). The policy in place is absolutely not non-existant. Walk down Main St. or any of the business hubs and you'll notice the owners out there cleaning paths as advised per that policy. People are doing what they can. I just don't see the need for a committee on this.
Susanne Guirakhoo February 16, 2014 at 07:29 PM
Seriously? I clean my side walk for my mail carrier and neighbors who need to use it. As well as potential emergency calls. I certainly will not cater to strangers who want to use my sidewalk as a runners' route with a stroller.
tom shattuck February 17, 2014 at 12:44 PM
I wish I had seen this earlier, Tim, as I am now three weeks into creating a scale model replica of the Matterhorn on the sidewalk in front of my house on Grove st. In the spirit of the Olympics feel free to use it as some kind of alpine triathlon course.
Adam Vetter February 17, 2014 at 08:31 PM
Hey Tim, I could go on for a whole on this, but I have a lot of shoveling to do, so I'll just address a few key points. Firstly, your assumption that ownership of property implies fiscal and or physical ability to maintain it is pretty narrow minded. What about the elderly, or those temporarily or permanently disabled? Should they further their physical difficulties or spend more of their income to ensure that a wide jogging stroller can pass on their walks? Secondly, your comment about crosswalks doesn't actually reference the weather, but to answer your question, yes. You SHOULD teach your children to be wary at crosswalks and stop signs. Just because there's a crosswalk doesn't mean that everyone will stop at it 100% of the time. Thirdly, let's remember that your complaint boils down to a dissatisfaction that your fellow townsfolk have not sufficiently enabled your hobby. I'll be the first to admit that jogging is not something I enjoy, but I also have hobbies. I enjoy riding a bike, but I don't expect my fellow citizens to plow an extra section of road so that I can engage in a warm weather activity in the middle of winter. I even noticed a gym the last time I walked down (a very nicely shoveled) Main Street. It appears to have many treadmills, and is even open 24 hours in the event that a sidewalk meeting runs late. Perhaps run there until we open a broad enough thoroughfare for you, your spouse, and your jogging stroller?
Tim Clapp February 19, 2014 at 09:43 AM
Hi Adam. Thank you for your comments, I wrote mine when angry which as I know is not the right thing to do. I come from a place where I get frustrated by seeing the elderly walking on the street and hearing from parents on how their kids need to walk to their school on the street as the sidewalks are not safe. The system is broken and needs some fixing. Yes, this is my hobby and my hobby is just that - a hobby and I don't expect others to work to support a hobby. However, I do commute on foot, is there a difference of expectations of roads vs sidewalks? My wife and kids walk to the library, should this be safe to do so? Susan - thank you for your comments, I'm glad that you're able to get your mail safely. Again, maybe I'm mistaken. Where I'm from, your sidewalk is your responsibility. This is an excerpt from a city that has set expectations for its residents "Snow that remains on sidewalks is hazardous for everyone, but especially for people with limited mobility who may be severely injured from a fall on ice or snow. Uncleared walkways also make it difficult for people who deliver services in our city - mail carriers, meter readers, delivery drivers, firefighters, and paramedics. That is why the Community Standards Bylaw requires that you clean the public walks around your property down to the pavement within 48 hours of a snowfall. Property owners are also responsible for clearing snow from every walk and driveway on or beside a property with buildings normally occupied by people, including derelict buildings. When you remove snow promptly after a snowfall, you play an important role in keeping our city moving safely in difficult weather. Be your neighbourhood's urban hero and make it great, within 48 The city then applies a $100 fine to the taxes on the property of will fix the issue and attach the bill for doing so to the property taxes. There is also a program that is called "snow angels" of which disabled/elderly/military families can contact to ask for assistance so not to inheritantly punish those who may not be able to maintain their property. I completetly understand not clearing enough for a stroller for running and I apologize for that comment. But to not clear at all, or to create huge piles on your sidewalk to force residents to walk on the street? Not sure that is the answer.
Tim Clapp February 19, 2014 at 09:48 AM
To post a follow-up to an example of a city program that works is: http://www.edmonton.ca/bylaws_licences/SnowRemoval_Brochure_Final.pdf. This is a city that experiences on average 48.6 inches of snow a year.
Betsey Benagh February 19, 2014 at 11:02 AM
The snow removal policy could stand to be updated. I do believe that homeowners have a responsibility to clear their sidewalks so that pedestrians can pass, whether those pedestrians are children walking to school, mail carriers delivering mail, commuters, or anyone else. If you own a home, it's your responsibility. Find someone to help you - if you cannot afford to pay a service or teen, get a teen to do it to fulfill their community service requirement. Note that 'passable' does not necessarily mean 'clear to bare pavement the full width of the sidewalk'. It means a path wide enough for one person to walk, clear enough that they can walk safely. Not just removing snow but following up with sand and/or ice melt as required. It's really not that hard.
Bonnie February 20, 2014 at 07:49 AM
I would love to see the sidewalks more pedestrian-friendly not just because we are runners who enjoy to engage in our active hobby but because I am a mother who is concerned about her children walking on the sidewalks. The other day, the sun was shining and I decided to get our kids outside for some fresh air, sun on their faces and exercise. I chose to not push our youngest in the stroller as I could see from many of the above comments that people do not feel that they need to clear their sidewalks for anyone else but themselves and their mail carrier, as Susanne and Adam pointed out. Unfortunately the scary part was that I stepped on a patch of ice when I was trying to walk around a snow mound (perhaps we found your Matterhorn, Tom) while my 7 month old son was strapped in our baby carrier to my chest. I was then saddened as I watched my oldest son fall and bruise his little knees. And all of that was followed up with seeing an elderly lady walking on the road with her groceries (whom we did offer assistance to). My husband and mine comments do not mean to upset or anger people. We were simply looking for some answers and thoughts as to how we could help remedy this problem. Josh, we appreciate your helpful suggestions of using Breakheart and Pine Banks, which we do. However there are times when I need to head out with our boys from our front door as my husband has driven to work that day, therefore commuting all the way to those locations is not a possibility. We are active and able individuals who are very happy to help those who cannot clear their sidewalks. I am going to do some further investigation with the City of Melrose to see if there is already a 'Snow Angels' organization started that I can volunteer for. And Steve, thank you so much for the thoughtful and considerate links you provided. We will also contact you more with regards to Bike/Pedestrian Committee.
Susanne Guirakhoo February 20, 2014 at 09:13 AM
What I said was that I clean the sidewalk for mail carrier, neighbors, and emergency calls. Not for myself even, because we use the back entrance, not the front. And I clean my neighbors' sidewalk while I'm out with the snowblower, also. But not to stroller width on the odd chance that somebody will want to jog with their infant. I understand your frustration. When my kids were small, we walked everywhere. There are a few days per year where that is challenging. But it's winter. I do not expect 100 % clear side walks and I do not expect 100 % clear streets. And Melrose is pretty good about that. Look at other communities. Give it a few days, and this whole issue will be dissolved. Literally.

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