This may be the week of the pedestrian in Newton’s city discussions.

Most critically, the Public Safety committee has decided not to play politics with crosswalk safety: if the vote coming up at tonight’s Board of Aldermen passes, the DPW will be able to remove parking that obstructs driver views of pedestrians without a full board vote–freeing Traffic Council for other parking votes and allowing the department to start planning on bump-outs which will make the crosswalk even safer and allow the parking to come back. This is already the policy for intersections where cars might crash because of poor sight lines.

Snow on sidewalks (whether deposited by nature or by plow) has come forward in three committees, and the trial sidewalk snow removal ordinance extended by a year (since last year it didn’t get much of a trial). At next week’s Finance Committee, the proposal to increase fines for dumping snow (on sidewalks or streets) to bring Newton closer to the fines levied by neighboring communities (where it is not such an issue as it is here), will come to a vote.

Sidewalk cafes have also been debated, and this week the addition of higher fees to pay for the additional city expense of approving sidewalk furniture (after debating how to streamline the process) comes before some of the Aldermanic committees.

And a new pedestrian-activated signal on the corner of Harvard and Washington streets in Newtonville is through Traffic Council. How the financing will work is the next hurdle.

Of course, the aldermen are also still working on school space issues, the Gath Pool bathroom renovations get voted tonight (Tuesday, 1/22), several economic development ideas–including food trucks, and reducing the use of plastic bags and polystyrene containers. And more.

Is the board focused on the right issues? What do you think?


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