You shovel your front walk, you shovel out your driveway, and if you’re nice you shovel out a nearby fire hydrant, but are you responsible for shoveling the sidewalk in front of your home? A reader asked that question in a thread last week, and I in turn asked DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan.
Turns out the answer is no. Galligan said there is nothing in the town bylaw that requires residents to shovel sidewalks. The only thing the bylaw says is that you can’t dump snow on a public way or sidewalk, or in a way that blocks a fire hydrant.
The town owns one sidewalk snow blower (which at the moment is temporarily out of commission). Galligan said once a storm is over and the DPW crew has finished clearing the roads, they turn their attention to sidewalks. The town won’t pay overtime for sidewalks to be cleared, so the work has to be done during normal operating hours.
Galligan said they place priority on clearing sidewalks on the major thoroughfares like Main Street and Cordaville and Southville Roads. Sidewalks also get cleared on streets like Parkerville and Richards Roads that lead to schools. The town doesn’t clear sidewalks on smaller secondary roads and cul-de-sacs.
Update: Mass General Law speaks more specifically to snow blocking fire hydrants. Fire Chief John Mauro Jr. sent along this snippet:
M.G.L. c 147, s 27B — No person other than an employee in the service of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof or in the service of an independent contractor acting for the commonwealth or any such subdivision shall pile, push or plow snow or ice on or against any fire hydrant or other similar device used for fire protection which is located in any public or private way so as to conceal such hydrant or device or cover any outlet thereof. Whoever violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars.