Chester Square Neighbors (CSN) met virtually on January 6, where neighbors discussed the first snowstorm of the winter with Council President Kim Janey and Kim Crucioli from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.
Many residents experienced various issues with the first major snowfall of last year, as some streets and sidewalks were not cleared, causing a safety hazard.
The group mentioned that property owners are responsible for shoveling both the front and back of their property if it is an area where people or cars can travel, but in many cases, this is not being done.
Other people raised issues with bus stops not being clear, and wondered if the City or the MBTA is responsible for clearing those out.
Not having clear sidewalks is an accessibility issue for those who use wheelchairs or walkers, as well as people with strollers or grocery carts, neighbors said. Some neighbors on the call shared their personal experiences with the lack of clearance of snow, with one saying she has fallen on a pubic way the past due to improper ice removal.
“I think the mayor does not have the intention of working against the hardworking neighbors,” CSN President Carol Blair said. She wondered what could be done to ensure roads and sidewalks are cleared.
“This was not a lot of snow,” Councilor Janey said. “We’ve seen much worse, but yet it had the same kind of impact.” She said “I can’t even tell you how many people reached out” to her and other councilors to complain about the lack of snow removal from this last storm.
“I actually did call a meeting with some folks in public works [and] neighbors,” Janey said, “because I had gotten so many calls. I am a big proponent of making sure that everyone who needs to use our roads can use our roads.”
Janey said she is an advocate of safe, accessible roads outside of the issue of snow, too, including advocating for multi-modal infrastructure. “The most vulnerable among us are with the least amount of metal surrounding us in those vehicles,” she said. “We need to make sure roads are accessible and manageable for pedestrians.”
Janey said that the city does not typically physically remove snow from the city, but rather just plows if out of the way. “It’s a misnomer when we say snow removal,” she said.
Several South End residents said that there is an issue on Mass. Ave. with building owners not shoveling their sidewalks, whether it be they are absent landlords or just are not aware of the rule. Janey said that there is an opportunity for residents to write a “nice letter” to those building owners asking them to clear the sidewalks.
“I think there’s an opportunity to try to get those property owners on Mass. Ave. to do the right thing when it comes to the sidewalks on Northampton St.,” Janey said.
She said that from the meeting she called with Public Works, the City “completely acknowledged” that they “dropped the ball” with the last storm.
“The reality is we live in New England; we live in a City that does get snow,” Janey said, and she wants to be “making sure that we’re not sandwiching in cars,” and “that bike lanes, ramps are getting cleared.”
She said that the city is “quick to ticket if you don’t shovel in front of our home. Meanwhile, streets are not plowed or plowed appropriately.”
Janey added that “we need to put in some protocol and a plan for the next storm so there’s more clarity,” as “certain streets in my district were just mayhem.” She also said that “there’s a sentiment that certain neighborhoods get taken better care of than others,” something that she said she, too, has felt as a resident.
Kim Crucioli, the South End’s newest liaison to the mayor, said that while she was working 311 during the last storm, a lot of calls were received regarding snow. “Please feel free to reach out to me during a storm,” she said. “Please let me know and I’ll do my best to get someone out there. That’s what I’m here for.”
As far as ice goes, Janey said that the plow trucks will typically salt the streets, but the salt might not reach sidewalks to the street or on-ramps. “What are we doing around those intersections?” she asked. “Is there anyone coming through?”
Janey was also concerned about abandoned buildings or sites under development, as sidewalks around many of these properties are also not being cleared. She said that it is “still someone’s responsibility” to clear these areas, and she wants people to reach out to her if they see this issue so she can help remedy it.
Janey added, “I appreciate your teaming up with me” on this important issue.