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Where the Sidewalks Aren't Shoveled

Photo 1
Photo 1
After my letter to the citizens of Westfield on Westfield Patch's Facebook page and website I decided maybe if I documented some of the things I have seen and experienced then maybe those who do not have to walk anywhere in this town could begin to understand the concerns I was trying to share. It was never about pedestrian vs. drivers as many people responded, but unsafe conditions for pedestrians and drivers caused by business and residents who refused to shovel snow and ice. Winter is far from over and as we are here of another snowstorm this week (and even another next week) I wonder what new hazards will present itself because snow isn't cleared from sidewalks because the streets aren't the only things that need to be cleared.

Photos 1& 2 the park area on Central Avenue between Westfield Fruit Market and Krauser's. City owned and not city shoveled or salted.

Photos 3-7 the old Kroll building location on the corner of Central and Myrtle. Hasn't been shoveled once this entire winter. Pedestrians have to walk in the bike lane on Central Ave, a county road.

Photos 8-9 the liquor store at Central and Grove. The snow hasn't been cleared to the crosswalk nor the crosswalk button, so not only can't people push the button to follow the rules of road and stay safe but they have to walk out into the street to even reach the crosswalk.

Photos 10-12 the empty gas station lot on Central and grove. While they shoveled parts of their sidewalk they too do nothing about the crosswalk which is why the girl is standing high on top of the snow to push the button and to cross the street. The distance between the top of the mound and street about 2 feet.

Photo 13 and 14 the Girl Scout building on Boynton and Grove. If the over abundance of cars/SUVs lining the roadway wasn't enough of a hazard for cars to see around when pulling onto or crossing Grove. This lovely 4 foot mound of snow on the corner sure is the icing on the accident waiting to happen.

Other not shoveled or badly shoveled hazardous locations that I have come across, but weren't able to take photos of: Grove once you cross Central past the former gas station & the first house; Grove, after the house on the corner of Carleton up to Boulevard; the park area at Cacciola and South; the sidewalk and crosswalk at the Shop Rite Liquors shopping plaza; the abandoned business at South and Central. There are probably more unsafe businesses and residences that haven't shoveled or put salt down, so I challenge people to put them on blast to make Westfield safer.
westfieldfriend February 11, 2014 at 05:13 PM
Kelly some of the areas you talk about such as the houses on Grove Street as well as Central probably haven't shoveled b/c of all of the heavy ice that the plows push over onto those sidewalks and ramps. It is extremely difficult to shovel and would most likely injure someone if they did so. You can't assume everyone has snow blowers or can pay someone to shovel for them. We have gotten an unusual amount of snow this year just try to have some patience instead of trying to put people on "blast".
Kelly Howard February 11, 2014 at 08:09 PM
All of the place I showed hadn't shoveled since 3 snow storms ago, when we were still shoveling light fluffy snow. The old Kroll location hasn't shoveled once this whole winter. I know this because I have to walk these sidewalks every day to take my son to Jefferson school. I don't have a snow blower, nor can I afford to pay someone else to shovel for me. Despite the fact that I have rheumatoid arthritis in my body I have cleared my sidewalks and driveway each and every time it has snowed. I do it in multiple shifts just like anyone else can. All but the house on the corner of Grove and Boulevard are business, including the ones that I did not post pictures of. I'm not posting these just because I lack patience, but because these are paths that people walk and when they are not shoveled have to walk in the street, risking their lives and/or being the cause of a car accident. Most of the kids that walk this route do not have parents with them to keep them safe and there are adults trying to get to and from work, so let's just say my putting people/businesses on blast is concerns for my fellow Westfielders young and old.
Kelly Howard February 11, 2014 at 08:36 PM
Town Code Sec. 24-5. Removal of snow and ice from sidewalks.4 The owner or tenant of land abutting or bordering upon the sidewalk and gutters of public streets, avenues, and highways in the town shall remove all snow and ice from any laid sidewalk of any kind in front of such land within twelve hours of daylight after the same shall fall or be formed thereon. Where ice is frozen to the sidewalk it shall be removed or covered with sand or ashes. (1932 Revision, Title 4, ch. 1, § 13; G.O. No. 534; G.O. No. 621.)
Kelly Howard February 11, 2014 at 08:38 PM
Town Code Sec. 35-37. Public areas. All public sidewalks, steps, driveways, parking spaces and similar paved areas for public use shall be maintained in a state of repair, free of all snow, ice, mud and rubbish and free of hazardous conditions. If any public sidewalk, steps or driveway for public use, or portion thereof, by virtue of its state of disrepair shall constitute a danger to public health and safety, the sidewalk, steps or driveway for public use, or portion thereof shall be replaced or repaired. Steps shall comply with the requirements for exterior stairs set forth in article VIII. (G.O. No. 1694, § I.)
Jodi February 12, 2014 at 07:05 AM
Kelly, nice job documenting this ongoing problem. If I may add another really bad (or good, depending on how you view it) example, it would be the sidewalks in front of the National Armory on Rahway Ave. I am amazed each morning as I watch the students who park on Codding street, navigate the snow piled up on the corner, just so they can walk on to Rahway, since there is no visible sidewalk for them to walk on. So add to the steady stream of cars already driving on Rahway, the added mix of students walking in the street and it is an accident waiting to happen. It is bad enough that many cars do not yield to the students in the crosswalk, on a good day. Now you add no shoveled sidewalks, kids walking in the streets and icy conditions. A recipe for disaster? I believe so. As of yesterday, I see that the kids have obviously tried to mat down the snow and create a walkway, which is helpful but far from a safe place to walk. You'd think of all places, the National Guard location would take safety seriously.
Michael Brown February 12, 2014 at 07:51 AM
Once again the real issue is we are all self focused... Kelly worries about her family and herself with how this effects her, and she is right. trouble is the bigger true issue stems from laziness and apathy combined with a lack of knowledge and experience. Coming from growing up in snow belt states, NJ snow wise has been a joke to me and to most NJ residents. Most years the snow melts between snowfalls, but the layers are building up this year like a snow belt state! NJ has the idea snow removal starts when the snow stops, snow belt states know you start salting before it comes, start plowing as soon as it starts falling and keep going until it stops. Not wait until the roads are impassible and then try to use 10 plows to due the whole GSP in one shot even blocking the road while doing so!!! Back to your sidewalks Kelly, since most winters here have little snow and it melts normally between falls. everyone has gotten lazy about walkways... it will melt soon anyway mentality, not working this year! and the apathy about it leaves few with the knowledge and voice to say... this current state of the state is actually illegal! and that blocked walkways (though they may be difficult to do) are the legal responsibility of the town or the owner of the property! Kelly is 100% right and anyone hurt due to someone's uncleaned walkway is not only a tragedy but a literal crime!
sandra February 12, 2014 at 08:16 AM
I libed in Westfield for 48 yrs this has always been an issue. I would shovel my own and if my neighbors were working theirs also and they would return the favor. I have also spent many a day picking myself up off the icewalks. if you cant shovel.for peoples safety maybe a law suit wojld shock you into doing something. believe me if someone falls and breaks something they will lay there a long time before someone stops.
Kelly Howard February 12, 2014 at 10:23 AM
Michael Brown, I am not just worried about my son and myself. I am worried about all...pedestrians who have to walk where it is not shoveled, drivers who have worry about pedestrians walking in the street because sidewalks aren't shoveled and business/residents who can be sued because they do not shovel for whatever reason it may be. The town code says it must be shoveled within 12 hours after daylight (sunrise). I have talked to Department of Public Works and was told that citations could and would be issued for the ones I mentioned, but sadly they are allowed 30 days to clean it up before they are hit with a fine or have to go to court. Waiting for snow to be cleared by the sun is irresponsible and lazy. I understand people have health issues or have limited finances because I am in both of those boats, but I get out there and do what is legally and morally right. My family has lived in this town since 1957 and while it has always been an issue it is getting worse because people feel entitled to not follow the law and because the law is is not being enforced.
Kelly Howard February 12, 2014 at 10:28 AM
Sandra, I agree with you that maybe some lawsuits against the residents and businesses that don't shovel might get them to change, but if the city does nothing to enforce the laws they have on their own books it is going to be a never ending, never fully corrected problem. Similarly is how the cops do not issue tickets to drivers who do not stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, and drivers who speed and do U turns in front of schools and downtown.
Susan S. February 12, 2014 at 01:17 PM
What about writing to our Councilmen, instead of writing about it on Patch? They don't read the Patch, we do, and we can't enforce the laws. Or we, the citizens, submit Petitions. If you want to be a homeowner/business owner, you need to be responsible for your property. If you can't, 9 times out of 10, you have family and/or neighbors to help.
Wally Westfield February 12, 2014 at 04:57 PM
Susan, Shouldn't the Council be already aware of this ? This has been an ongoing problem in Westfield for years
Kelly Howard February 12, 2014 at 06:03 PM
Susan S. I did write to them as well as call various people at City Hall, but that doesn't mean that educating the citizens of the town code, and reminding people and businesses to keep their sidewalks safe here on Patch or in other ways isn't helpful as well. Education and enforcement are required sometimes together to make changes. Yes, people should do the right moral and legal thing, but they don't always. Yes, governments/police/etc. should enforce the laws all the time equally, but they don't always either. Besides how could I even begin to get a petition if I don't reach out to people here on Patch or other online and offline gathering places?
Susan S. February 12, 2014 at 09:47 PM
@Wally, I moved to Westfield in 1978 and lived on Central for 14 years. Hell, I'm still waiting for a parking deck! We vote these people in; they work for us. We need to be proactive and go to town meetings instead of just complaining about it, which I am guilty of. @Kelly, regarding a petition, start in your neighborhood and talk to other parents at Jefferson who walk to school with their children. They might not traverse your sidewalks, but they could be sidewalks that are just as unsafe. I'm sure you have some speed demons in your neighborhood. Unfortunately, some people just don't care. If they don't have to walk down the sidewalk and the town doesn't enforce the codes for cleaning the sidewalks in a timely fashion, they won't do anything. The town needs to worry about more than just the expired meters. If there's something I can do to help you, I will. Just let me know.
S_O_G February 16, 2014 at 04:44 PM
As of Friday, the sidewalk the entire length of the municipal parking lot on Prospect street was not cleared (now sure when the last time was, but there was over a foot there Friday). Didn't really expect them too since they do not trim the bushes there and people exiting the lot cannot see pedestrians. The bakery and the house next to it cleaned up. So did Trader Joe's and all of the places until the next corner did as well. Just not the length of the parking lot
Thomas Mann February 17, 2014 at 09:32 AM
The photos do not include the snow covered sidewalks around the municipal building and the park along Broad St. as of 2/17/14 am. Maybe the town needs to take the lead on clearing the sidewalks as they expect of the residents and store owners.
Kelly Howard February 17, 2014 at 01:41 PM
S_O_G and Thomas Mann thanks for adding more locations. Kind of hard to expect businesses & residents to abide by laws that the town itself doesn't follow. Listen I understand that there has been an exorbitant amount of snow, more than we have seen since the winter of 2011, but that doesn't mean people can't show an effort to try to clear it up. UPDATE: The park area on Central Ave (photos 1 &2) are even worse now because not only hasn't been shoveled in weeks, but the city plows pushed the snow right up to where the sidewalks were creating a barrier. This prevents citizens of this area to walk to Krauszers or the Westfield Fruit Market. And the children who use this route to walk to Jefferson, Tamaques, Edison and Westfield High School cannot go this way without climbing the large mounds and getting covered in snow.

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