Greater City Providence

Sidewalk rant: Reader results

Greater City Providence reader Meg contacted Councilman Hassett about unshoveled sidewalks in Ward 12.

Meg told Councilman Hassett about her concerns about unremoved snow and icy sidewalks along Douglas Avenue, and asked why no one has been fined for not removing the snow and ice. Councilman Hassett responds:

A recent review of this Ordinance [Article 1 Section 23-13 through 23-16] has triggered interest in improving enforcement in order to provide safe passage through our neighborhoods.

Upon receiving your e-mail I have asked our police Commander to identify areas where no attempt has been made to clear sidewalks of snow only to remind property owners of the Ordinance requirement. Additionally, I have asked the Mayor to launch a public campaign to remind all property owners to clear snow from their property. Such past campaigns have been met with success.

For our part locally, I have directed a mailing to property owners along main through ways to clear snow or face the penalty. It will be requested that owners clear a reasonable path so that neighbors and visitors may safely move along our neighborhood streets. This is a difficult issue that we need to continue to pursue.

With the warmer weather in recent days most of the sidewalks are finally almost clear. We still have a good bit of winter to get through yet though. Meg will be keeping an eye on Douglas Avenue and we will be keeping an eye on the areas we pass through.

—OK, change of tack in this post now. I was looking for the QAlert System to post a link here, remember the QAlert system, I wrote about it in August. I can’t find it. Where did it go? The Office of Neighborhood Services page now just has a phone number and an email for Pleshette Mitchell.

So I guess if you want to report a sidewalk uncleared you should email the Director of Neighborhood Services? You can also contact your City Councilor like Meg did.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • Thanks for the post. Councilman Hassett is my city council member here in Smith Hill as well. This might be a little late in the year do be useful about unshoveled sidwalks, though; the warm weather has cleared up most of the unshoveled sidewalks I’ve seen on my daily commute.

  • I’m sure it will snow again before spring officially comes. Everyone needs to call right away when things aren’t shoveled and cleared!

  • Is there a difference between business sidewalks and home sidewalks? Because a certain state rep that lives on Pleasant Valley Parkway seems to be encouraging people to trip and die in front of her house…

  • I also wrote to my warden (Narducci-4th) about this, a few weeks ago. It bothers me a lot that people are keen to shovel what they need, but with no consideration to pedestrians.

    It especially irritates me when it’s institutions and businesses. There’s a small church down the street that cleared their doorfront, but then piled the snow right on the sidewalk on both sides! (I came back at night, cleared it myself, and piled the snow right in front of their door.)

    The two that really bother me, on Charles Street, are Wendy’s and Home Depot. Wendy’s is on a busy corner (Charles and Silver Spring), that has a lot of pedestrians all day. (Wal-Mart is right behind them. The main entrance is on Silver Spring, but most shoppers get off on other Charles Street buses.) Home Depot has huge parking lots on both sides, which they clear, but not the sidewalks (including two bus stops); so there are people walking and standing on both sides of a busy street, for the equivalent of about two city blocks. Given that Home Depot SELLS HUGE SNOWBLOWERS, wouldn’t it be actually a kind of advertising for them to clear their frontage?

    Anyway, Mr. Narducci wrote me back, indicating that he would personally speak to negligent businesses in the ward, and that he is also sponsoring an ordinance that would allow DPW to directly cite property owners.

  • @matthew: There is no difference, from my understanding of the ordinance, between a business sidewalk and a residential sidewalk. Building owners are ultimately responsible for all sidewalks adjacent to their property.

    @Wesli: Is it really necessary to have another ordinance for DPW to cite people? Who is in charge of that now? And do we really want DPW in charge of citations? After all, they’re probably the most corrupt department in the city.

  • One might postulate that the QAlert system brought in so many reports of things that need fixing that the city’s only appropriate response was to take it down.

    Those PW folks have work to do. Can’t be mucking about with all your complaints…

  • I’d postulate that it just didn’t work. The city doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to technology.

  • yeah, this is a regular problem in my neighborhood on the west side, district 7 (silver lake.) Homeowners, renters and businesses all are faulty here. It seems that the only consistently GOOD shovelers are the senior citizens that have lived here for 30+ years. I’ve wanted to be able to contact someone, anyone who can do something “official” about this regular problem. Thanks for putting out the helpful info- I’LL USE IT!

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