LETTER: Thoughts on the Residential Snow Ordinance from a Former Councilor

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Greetings Councilors:

Many of you already know my thoughts on the proposed 2024 Residential Snow and Ice Removal Ordinance. In 2012, I voted a well thought out and vetted: “No.” I listened to the residents and the many scenarios of circumstances that were brought before the Committees.

One of my comments was as follows:

“… something we need to work on as a community, but mandating it, I don’t think is appropriate …”

What’s changed since the Council’s deliberations in 2015, 2012, and years prior? The complexities of enforcement; liabilities in this litigious society; personal unforeseen situations and pitting neighbor, against neighbor have not been resolved. I suggest you carefully read the submitted Committee Reports, as a reminder of the discussed uncertainties. https://watertownma.portal.civicclerk.com/event/5545/files/414

Sometimes, clearing at least a 42 inch pathway on the abutting property owner’s sidewalk, within 24 hours of snow cessation, is not doable. Life happens.

Think carefully of the personal ramifications to the elderly, fixed-income households and young families. In today’s economy, there are point-in-time financial priorities, other than paying in excess of $80.00 per inch for commercial snow removal. Not all financial hardships should be open for public scrutiny to receive consideration for exemption.

“In the past, the Council decided that an ordinance creates more problems than it solves.”

It is a given: everyone wants and deserves safe public walkways. Overall, Watertown residents should be commended for their snow and ice removal efforts. In my opinion, a mandate, with financial penalties, is unwarranted. Thank you.


Angeline Maria B. Kounelis
Retired District A, East End, City Councilor
Landline: 617-926-2352
Mobile: 617-538-9252

4 thoughts on “LETTER: Thoughts on the Residential Snow Ordinance from a Former Councilor

  1. As always Angie right on, this did create more problems than it solves, example #1, the committee identified more clearing of sidewalks that the “manpower strapped DPW” is responsible for. #2 a personal favorite of mine, for the exemption of seniors over 65 to qualify, they wanted them to bring their “schedule C” part of the tax returns to see what the property is worth and if they can afford to pay someone to clear the property, other than the tenants in some cases. Just because the property holds a value doesn’t mean the senior citizen struggling to make ends meet, has that money to pay some of these overcharging crooks out there! It all leads to the BIG question, Who ever came up with this idea in the first place! I’ve got a pretty good idea, let’s see if anyone else does, it may surprise a lot of people! Call your councilors today or attend tonights meeting, Common sense is really being taken over here!

  2. There is a dysfunctional Watertown web page for older people to sign up to receive help with shoveling. Also one for high school and jr. high students to sign up.
    If the one for students is as dysfunctional as the one for seniors I doubt anyone is using it.
    Let’s fix this attempt at connecting people who need help with people willing to help before we finish with any decisions.

  3. Yes, our city and others around us are having a problem getting people to plow the streets, even at huge increases in pay. And many residents, many senior citizens. are reaching out to try to get individuals or landscaping companies to clear their sidewalks and driveways. There aren’t enough of those service people and some charge high prices that people can’t afford.

    Even if you hire someone to help out during storms, that doesn’t mean they will always show up. They may get sick or their equipment may break down. If that happens, they have to wait for shops to repair the machines and that is not a fast process these days.

    The six of the nine Councilors who voted in favor of this ordinance weren’t relying on data to establish how big of a problem it is regarding homeowners not cleaning their walks. They heard from very vocal people who say it’s a problem for them. I think most people are responsible and do the best they can after each storm.

    There are some businesses that didn’t shovel and I doubt that the city called them up or fined them. If that requirement can’t be enforced, how are they going to go after the residential scofflaws? And what costs to the city will we incur to put people in positions to follow up on residents, who in some cases may have or had a legitimate reason for not shoveling in a storm?

    As I believe Manager Proakis mentioned, there are only ten student volunteers from the high school, as part of their volunteer points needed to graduate, who will help seniors shovel. There are 80 people requesting help. That’s not an impressive number of young people willing to help their neighbors.

    I remember the days when young people would be happy to go out shoveling in their neighborhoods after a storm. Some people would give them money and the youth felt good about earning something and had a feeling of accomplishment and pride in doing a good deed.

    Some of today’s youth don’t even help their parents shovel. We always believed that there are some jobs that are just part of being a family or community member. Today’s kids could use some exercise, and efforts to get them off their tech gear would be a good thing for all.

    As usual, with this new ordinance there are more questions than answers!

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