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Why does Newton hate pedestrians?
By adamg on Fri, 12/03/2010 - 6:40am
Sean Roche reports that the proposed mall for the old Omni Foods site on Rte. 9 will actually make pedestrian access along Rte. 9 worse and that that's just fine with the city lawyer, who got into a "heated exchange" with an alderman on the topic, basically arguing that nobody walks along Rte. 9 and never will - which Roche refutes with photos of some actual pedestrians walking along that stretch of Rte. 9.
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The stretch of Chestnut Street between Beacon and Comm is often nearly impassable in winter because many property owners there never clear their sidewalks of snow and ice.
These are the same people who, at the first robin of spring, have their landscapers there for weeks on end. But they can't afford to pay someone a few bucks to shovel?
I've ended up walking in the street, which isn't safe either. Very frustrating.
Here we go again.
The sidewalks are public property. Clearing snow from public property should be the responsibility of the City of Newton, and not the private property owners, who BTW already pay taxes which are supposed to pay for the maintenance of public property like sidewalks.
Suppose a city or town mandated that, in addition to clearing the public sidewalks of snow and ice, that private property owners also be responsible for plowing the public streets in front of their houses and businesses as well. Would you be in agreement with such a law?
Can you verify that?
I've always understood the sidewalk (and even the street) to be public easements of private property. If you look at the lot lines in my neighborhood, they run down the middle of the street, which is not a private way.
Setting that aside, it is common courtesy to shovel your sidewalk. I can't stand people who fail to do so.
Why does the city of Boston fine non-shovellers then?
i.e. Chuck Turner?
Because in Boston ...
Unlike in Newton, there is an ordinance that requires property owners to shovel the sidewalks in front of their property.
OK, but regardless of the law...
Whoever's responsible is not taking care of the problem...if the city is supposed to clear your sidewalk and doesn't, then you either call and complain until they do or you handle it yourself. It's a safety issue. I've seen elderly people and kids walking in the street because the sidewalk was impassable, and people don't exactly drive cautiously through that stretch of Chestnut.
It's common courtesy, as far as I'm concerned.
For the first few hours after a snowstorm, the city needs thousands of sidewalk shovelers. So, which do you think is cheaper for the property owner:
Surge capacity is very expensive.
Those few cities and towns that actually clear their
sidewalks, instead of unfairly passing their responsibilites onto private citizens, use bobcats with small wing plows.
Regarding the costs, how much does a city like Boston spend to enforce the idiotic and draconian "you MUST clear property that you don't own of snow" regulations. When you count up the salaries, vehicles, gas, and idiotic and needless gadgetry like the special iPhonies with portable printer attachments to write up the tickets the City squandered the taxpayer's money on a couple of years ago, three or four bobcats with minimum wage laborers to run them (as opposed to expensive and needless "enforcement police" that would much better serve the public by dealing with real crime) is a bargain by comparison. And it would directly solve the real issue -clearing the snow - in a far more efficient and consistent manner.
As for your comment about surge demand, cities and towns deal with that very issue all the time when they have to clear the streets after a storm. Addressing the sidewalks is just a logical extension of that. Or perhaps you think that municipalities should make private property owners responsible for clearing the streets of snow as well.
Tickets would be outrageous only if ...
The city hired a special staff of snow maids after every storm. But they don't: It's the same ISD inspectors who are on the same streets looking for garbage violators and the like, using the same ticket-writing gizmos.
But, really? You think three or four Bobcats would be enough to clear every sidewalk in Boston? It's a small city, but it's not that small.
Faboulous, again the city
Faboulous, again the city Aldermen did NOT listen to those of us who have had to work in the area. There is NO MBTA access to the malls. The Chestnut Hill green line stop is 1 mile from the Chestnut Hill mall and the MBTA often threatens to cut the #60 bus, which is how a lot of the mall workers in the area (Atrium and Chestnut Hill) get to work.
There is no pedestrian access across Rte 9 between the Chestnut Hill Mall and the MBTA does not go to the Atrium Mall. During the holidays, Simon Malls (owners of the 2 malls) runs a shuttle on Saturdays between the two malls.
Without some sort of variation to MBTA routes or some sort of pedestrian access, workers are forced to drive or combat harsh weather conditions to get to work. Because shoppers don't have a public transportation option, they are forced to drive. Rte. 9 is often congested by all sorts of traffic (commuters, shoppers, etc.) and the occupancy rate of both malls is never 100%. Now the city is adding a 3rd mall and a development in Newton Centre (which is at least a little more MBTA friendly but bad traffic and city service loads wise).
I'm so glad my kids are done with school here soon and I can move. This is lack of planning, not smart growth.
Route 9 and Pietons
(apologies, but I couldn't resist. I always chuckle at those French signs, which speak to pietons, which I think not coincidentally resembles the English word peons, which is a pretty good assessment of how pedestrians are viewed in some parts of Paris - and certainly on Route 9 in Newton).
Even though I know that development around here is often a game of inches, I find this whole thing very strange. I would think that the developer would want to encourage foot traffic between its new development and the existing ones - particularly the Mall at Chestnut Hill and the Atrium.
Also, I am not quite sure why the city would not absolutely insist on a buffered sidewalk there. The blogger kept referring to a "berm", but that was not what I saw - or what I saw was not what I consider to be a berm. An actual berm, i.e., an elevation of land, would actually be quite nice there. While I will be the first one to say that my experience with a lot of people around here (I live just over the line in Brookline) is that they will drive everywhere, every time, even to the next parking lot (it's strange, I tell you!), there has been a lot of higher density housing built in this area (the Towers, the existing townhouses on Hammond Pond Parkway, the new Townhouses/condos at the intersection of Hammond and Heath), and it would be foolish to force these people into cars to get to this new development. It is true that some of them could walk there via Florence St., but that is a longer trek and would likely shift the decision to "let's just drive".
The short and long of it is that without a fairly well protected sidewalk, I think many people will elect to drive rather than walk along that stretch of Route 9. If you look at the bloggers pictures you can see why - with the curve just upstream (west) of the site, you would feel like you were walking into oncoming traffic that is traveling at a pretty good clip (well, most of the time). It's not Beacon St. or Boylston St., not least because there is no parked car buffer. It is a state highway, and if one of those drivers sneezes and drifts slightly right, you're dead. I certainly wouldn't take a stroll with my kids out there unless there was a buffer (although I would walk around the back on Florence St. rather than moving the car, but I am telling you that very few others will do that, even if they know about the route which many will not).
Yeah, as a lifelong
Yeah, as a lifelong pedestrian, sidewalks generally are a good thing.
were sick of shoplifters and riff raff
nobody wants any bus to atrium or chm.... they are thinking about new condos there in the old spot... it's bad enough the no. 60
attracts shoplifters and criminals during off peak hrs.. copley pl.
pru mall arsenal theyre all fed up with it.. all we need is
another mall., and yes, they should cut the 60 bus!!! ive even seen
people walk on the edge of the highway!!!
one woman was assaulted and slapped by some punk at our new star market! we're fed up!!!
You were sick of shoplifters and riffraff?
What are you sick of now? The internet's all-out assault on coherent posting?
To think that they aren't fine people like you, with your Avant Garde writing style. Only the finest kind of people can transcend the need to spell, capitalize, punctuate, and use proper grammar.
...that post WASN'T sarcasm? Oy....
It's the elderly who do much of the shoplifting at Copley Place, the Pru, Arsenal and your precious Simon malls, not this "riff-raff" you believe is being "bussed in" from the big, bad city. Chestnut Hill to Kenmore? Oooooooh, tough stuff. Sure wouldn't want any of those Charlesgate spinsters or Eastern Standard Old Fashioned-quaffers nosing around the Crate and Barrel or putting down reheated dumplings at Bernard's. We've got a reputation to uphold?
As for the "punk" who slapped the woman at Star Market for not giving him a cigarette or her cell phone, Newton does just fine attracting vagrants and shady characters to that place all on its own. Don't blame Boston every time Ol' Johnny gets loaded up on OxyContin and goes down to the parking lot for a night on the town.
As a Newton resident and
As a Newton resident and someone who worked in both malls, we didn't worry about the "riff raff" shoplifting, it was the professional thieves that work in well-organized crews we worried about.
The only "riff raff" we dealt with on a regular basis were the kids dropped off by parents at the mall with a credit card and/or pocket full of money instead of hiring a babysitter for the day. They're the kids who dare someone to pull the fire alarm, wasting city resources as well as hurting retailer revenues. They would also rip stuff off on a dare or destroy product for fun.
If you got past your snobbery for a moment, you'd realize that a lot of the "Boston" shoppers were people who traveled to actually purchase something (why travel to Newton if you don't have to?) vs the people from Newton who were killing time.
But hey, what would I know? I mean it was always really sweet to have my neighbors treat me and my co-workers as if we were something less than human because we worked in a mall. I'd rather take my chances with a disturbed individual where I have a level of recourse over the people who called me all sorts of horrible names, questioned my parentage or otherwise verbally assaulted me not to mention the ones that would invade my personal space to emphasize their anger as they threw temper tantrums over not getting their way ("What do you mean you won't give me a cash refund on a product I have no receipt for that was purchased 6 months ago ... maybe at your store, I can't remember it was so long ago....") but I needed to smile and be polite in the name of customer service.
Bookstore one explanation
Wife kid and I went to the mall. The mall is boring, so I cut out and thought I'd WALK to the bookstore across the street. I can confirm that route 9 is hostile to pedestrians. I expect they'll install machine gun stations next to keep pedestrians from impeeding route 9.
I suspect that the lawyer's real argument was that ONLY a nobody walks along Rte. 9.
(homage to Missing Persons, if you think you've heard that one before)
I've walked there many times
No it's not terribly fun, but I've walked many times from the Imperial Towers condo building both across Rt. 9 (via a well signalled light at Hammond) and to the Atrium mall nearby. It's not a great experience, but at least it's possible (unlike roads like Route 16 in Everett.) I don't expect great pedestrian facilities around there, but it's absurd to make life harder for people who live there.