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February  13

Snow Fed Up

If you found it hard to walk this morning along Grove Street or Watchung Avenue by Hempstead at Montclair, you're not alone. A reader writes...

Dear Barista,

I live on Grove Street just south of the Marlboro Inn. As of 7:30 am today, the sidewalks on the Grove Street and Watchung Ave. sides of the Marlboro Inn site were unplowed, despite the presence of several workers at the site.  It made my daily schlep to the train station slightly perilous (had to cross Grove in the middle of the block -- not something I would normally do).

I've had it.  I called the Town Manager to complain, but all I got was voice mail. (so I submitted a post to the Watercooler -- hope it gets through).  It's possible that the sidewalks are clear by now, but I doubt it, because the sidewalks around the Inn are never cleared of leaves, snow, etc. This is the first time I've been mad enough to exhaust all the channels of protest that are known to me (i.e. call the town, post a cranky message on the Watercooler, and alert the Barista).

People in Montclair are ticketed if their sidewalks aren't cleared of snow by the next day -- developers should be held to the same standard too.


Sue Mellin

Mellin writes back with an UPDATE:

Joe Hartnett just left me a message saying that he will check the Marlboro Inn site and if the sidewalks are still unplowed, he will send an enforcement officer over.  I'm feeling a little less cranky now. (it took him less than an hour to respond to me, despite the fact that the Municipal Building is closed today)

Talk about your snow woes, or anything else you want to get off your chest...

February 13, 2006 in The Daily Chat | Permalink


Geez, considering we just had the second largest snowfall on record, and the fact that it came on a Sunday, you'd think we could exibit some tolerance and patience.
For those who did not have access to the largest of snowblowers, and who are not of 100% youth and health, this is a most challenging job.
Let's consider the magnitude of this accumulation before we start biting people's heads off.

Meanwhile , enjoy the clear curbs while you can because the big melt will begin soon. Slush will fill your shoes and there is no law to remove that.

Posted by: njholdem | Feb 13, 2006 11:22:33 AM

Oh wow, I just posted about this in the other thread. It's like you read my mind.

They didn't clear the sidewalk along Watchung the last big snow. It was icy and wet for a long time after that. It's especially unpleasant because that's the only side of Watchung Ave with a continuous sidewalk.

Posted by: Captain Vegetable | Feb 13, 2006 11:24:53 AM

The issue here, njholdem, is not about infirm old people. It is about wealthy developers who have plenty of money to throw up obscenely expensive houses as quickly as possible, but who don't have the time or energy to respect the people around them.

Which fits in rather well with the rest of their actions.

Posted by: latebloomer | Feb 13, 2006 11:42:41 AM

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this one: What is the appropriate way to deal with a neighbor who _never_ shovels the walk in front of their house. There are two houses, side-by-side, along my walk to the station, that are never shoveled. And I'm talking about never-shoveled-in-the-3-years-we've-lived-on-this-street.

Should one take the reasoned, neighborly approach and stop by the house or drop them a friendly letter asking them if there is some reason why they can't get the walk shoveled? Or should I go straight to the police and see if I can get them to handle the situation? (I'm working on the assumption that these people are in violation of some kind of town law).

Any suggestions?

Posted by: TwinDad | Feb 13, 2006 11:47:14 AM

Dear njholdem:

I've been plenty patient and tolerant, believe me.

Every residence along Watchung between Grove and South Fullerton had a plowed sidewalk by 7:30 am today. The only sidewalk that wasn't plowed was the one alongside the Marlboro Inn site. The residents of Watchung Avenue are complying with Montclair's snow shoveling regulation, despite the second largest snowfall on record -- however, somehow the Marlboro Inn developer (with the manpower and the big equipment) can't. That was my point in posting.

Furthermore, it's an ongoing problem with leaves, previous snowfalls, etc. I've just never complained until now. I feel like that guy in Network (mad has hell and not going to take it anymore).

Sue Mellin

Posted by: Sue Mellin | Feb 13, 2006 11:48:03 AM

I would give them the benefit of the doubt first: stop by and ask why, or ask if they need help if they are elderly and/or infirm.

But, if it's a case of a lazyass, I'm-too-good-to-shovel-show attitude such as the one cited by Latebloomer above, I would report them to the town.

Posted by: Miss Martta (Trolidarity) | Feb 13, 2006 11:50:03 AM

OK --point taken.
I didn't mean to defend the developer.
You're right.

Posted by: njholdem | Feb 13, 2006 11:57:23 AM


I *always* vote for neighborliness before police-calling. Why wouldn't you go speak to them first?

Knock on the door.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Feb 13, 2006 12:36:17 PM

I have two honest questions about the Marlboro block.

1.) are homeowners supposed to clear the sidewalk on the street behind their house as well as the front? (never thought about it before).


2.) is the sidwalk along Grove officially "closed" durning the construction?

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Feb 13, 2006 12:39:40 PM

ROC - I'm with you completely on the neighborly approach being preferable. My hesitation stems from the fact that I have doubts about how neighborly they might be when I knock on the door. If their shovelling ethic is any indication, they're maybe not as civil as you and I.

Posted by: TwinDad | Feb 13, 2006 12:44:51 PM

Maybe it's an elderly or sick person, TwinDad?

Posted by: Miss Martta (Trolidarity) | Feb 13, 2006 12:45:30 PM


Then you will have made your effort at a neighborly community.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Feb 13, 2006 12:50:03 PM

TwinDad - I agree with those that said the neighborly approach is always better. But it's too bad that in the 3 years you've lived there you've never met these neighbors under other circumstances. Maybe rather than meeting them the first time to complain about their snow shoveling, it would be better to find out from other neighbors what their circumstances are? Does anyone know them? In our neighborhood people with snowblowers just do other people's walks if they aren't home or are elderly. Maybe if you got to know your other neighbors more you could find out if that is the case with these folks and someone with the means to do so could do their walkways if it turns out they have issues that prevent them from doing it.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | Feb 13, 2006 1:05:03 PM

"Forgive me maui for I have sinned..."


(knock knock knock)


Hi, my name's twindad and I am you neighbor down the block. Nice to meet you.

Yea, ok.

Anyway I have a request to make, every day I walk by and ..."

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Feb 13, 2006 1:09:29 PM

If you're afraid of a confrontation then just send them a letter, you have their address.

Posted by: PAZnj (AMiL) | Feb 13, 2006 2:37:18 PM

You could just as easily knock on the door and say something like "Hi, I'm your neighbor twindad, and I notice you have trouble keeping your sidewalk clear when it snows and was wondering if perhaps you need some help?"

Then, if they act like jerks, you did your best and you can take the next step and call the town (not the cops though), find out what the ordinance is (as I'm sure there is one) and have it enforced.

Posted by: Meandtheboys | Feb 13, 2006 2:53:28 PM

The way people act sometimes, I can imagine hesitating, if I were twindad, to knock on the door -- especially knowing my next recourse might be the police.

Have you never seen these people outside their homes? Are they young, fit-seeming people. Do they spend on hired landscaping services? In other words, can you assemble any explanation from your observations other than snowfall-related behaviour?

It's possible some people really do not know the shoveling is obligatory. Believe it or not, many do not read the Montclair Times. They may think all the rest of you are just extremely particular about your properties. In which case, your advice may be all they need to know. You could say, "I hear the town is getting more aggressive about ticketing people for failing to shovel, and I wondered if you knew about it." You could send your "shoveling guy" (assuming you have one) next door to make the business proposition.

On the other hand, I've called the police on a neighbor who was beating members of his household, dealing drugs, and "appropriating" my belongings when I was not at home. This resulted in members of my household being threatened nearly every time we came or left. It was not a comfortable situation.

I feel for you, twindad.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 13, 2006 3:46:04 PM

This is starting to vaguely remind me of the fifth grade.

You know, I am sure to be savaged for saying this, but at a time when young men and women are risking their lives in Iraq is knocking on your neighbor's door worth all this angst?

Be brave!

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Feb 13, 2006 3:59:03 PM

Twin dad,

Call the town, there's no reason why you have to explain that they need to shovel their walk. There's also no need for you to play detective or confront them.

When they get a ticket they will understand that if they choose not to shovel they are choosing to pay.

If you don't want to call- post the address and I will!

Posted by: speed bump | Feb 13, 2006 4:15:57 PM

Try walking around the CBD in Montclair. Very few walks on the Crescent, including the whole stretch along the new parking garage, have been cleared. But the worst are the CORNERS, where the plows have left giant piles, mostly impossible to navigate.

Posted by: Lurkerlady | Feb 13, 2006 4:17:46 PM

Mellin writes back with an UPDATE:

Joe Hartnett just left me a message saying that he will check the Marlboro Inn site and if the sidewalks are still unplowed, he will send an enforcement officer over. I'm feeling a little less cranky now. (it took him less than an hour to respond to me, despite the fact that the Municipal Building is closed today)

I am surprised - the town manager lives in town and has a town vehicle to be available (I think) 24/7.

And definitely yes, developers should be ticketed for their failure to remove snow from the sideways in a timely manner.

The rules arent just made for home owners, but for home builders as well.

By the way is anyone checking the streets and sidewalks around the Siena and the Montclair Heights construction sites as well?

Hey Joe - Have Vehicle Will Travel!

Posted by: Franklin | Feb 13, 2006 5:17:57 PM

Miss Martta,

I was just getting used to the (8T) following your signature. Now you're "Trolidarity", what does this mean? Why is it necessary to embellish your own signature with this? Just curious.

Posted by: One for the Road | Feb 13, 2006 8:59:53 PM

(8T)...trollidarity rules. now, get out of my face and go back to your union hall and bow to your idols or Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Che, Fidel and Mikhail...fakers all.
Trolls rule

Posted by: The Iceman | Feb 13, 2006 9:05:54 PM

So there's no longer any confusion....

Posted by: Miss Martta (8T) | Feb 13, 2006 9:42:19 PM

Believe me, I'm no fan of the Hempstead McMansions, but having driven by the site last night I did notice a large "Sidewalk Closed" sign with tape blocking anyone's passage. Don't know if they just put this up in response to complaints of their not shoveling the sidewalk. But it does seem to me that if a sidewalk is closed (probably for safety reasons)there shouldn't be a need to shovel it, should there?

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