Letter: Basic Decency

Dear Homeowners,

I have lived in Lakewood for over 20 years, and after every snowfall, whether 3 inches or 18 inches, I clear the sidewalks in front of my home. I feel it is basic human decency to provide

a safe area for pedestrians to walk, especially young children walking to and from bus stops.

It seems that few, if any, others in town share my views. My children have expressed how dangerous it is after a severe snowfall, when they are dropped off by their bus at night, when it is dark and icy and the only place to walk is on a road severely narrowed by snow on all sides. Does anyone care to think of what would happen ch’v if a car loses traction and skids?!

As I looked out the window this morning I watched a large group of boys at a corner. They stood as close to the sidewalk as possible, which was many feet into the street, with a large mountain of snow behind them.

I just dropped off my son at playgroup and observed a woman walking down the street with a line of cars behind her (I kid you not). There was no other place for her to walk but IN the street and the street was just not wide enough for a lane for pedestrians and the two lanes of oncoming traffic.

Dear homeowners, I know it takes a lot of work and effort (I have years of personal experiences!) but PLEASE think of others and shovel your sidewalks. It’s really not ok to force pedestrians to have to walk in middle of the street because it’s too hard for you to do so.

PS- I grew up in a town where a homeowner was immediately ticketed if their walkways were not cleared. As you can imagine, every sidewalk in town was immediately shoveled. I find that a sad commentary on society; it seems like without government enforcement we will not do what is right on our own.

Name withheld

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  1. Bravo!!! For years, I was one of the only Frum Jews on my street (not my block but all the way up and down a long street in the middle of Lakewood) who shoveled and salted his sidewalks immediately after a snowfall. It very disheartening to see that so few showed regard for others in this respect. Moved away a few years ago, but it appears nothing has changed.

  2. It’s a pity that tickets are necessary to force basic menchlichkeit. Let’s help each other! Shovel a clear path, the sooner the better, and take into consideration the strollers that bring our children to Morah.

  3. i raised my children where, in the event of a huge snow storm, all the men living on the block,came out withtheir shovels and their sons, and cleared the whole street, including sidewalks and street, in record time.

    as members of klal yisroel , we are responsible for each other

  4. The township is responsible because they ignore it. Give a couple of fines and all sidewalks will be cleared in no time. We pay them to ensure our safety and quality of life.

    • Must disagree. Placing the blame on others for your own lack of basic decency is one of the underlying reasons for the problem in the first place. If you are not motivated by your own conscience and hashkafos to do the right thing, you’re doing it wrong (Yiddishkeit/Menschluchkeit)

  5. I’ve actually seen boys shoveling sidewalks that belonged to the township, as a chesed to all the people who use them daily, i.e. all around Wawa, squankum etc They did not have to do this, but went out of their way to do this great mitzva! Thank you!

  6. I have been wondering. I live at the end of a cul de sac and the plows dump all the snow onto my sidewalk. There is also literally no where that you go to from in front of my house.
    Do you think I still need to shovel?

  7. My sons stop is on a corner where the homeowner did not shovel (not a Yid’s property). However, even if they did shovel, on most streets (other than main ones) that I have drove by the last couple days, the township didn’t shovel the whole streets. They left a good few feet on each side of the street which is piled extremely high because that’s where all of the snow from the center of the street was dumped. So while the homeowner didn’t shovel their sidewalk, even if they would have, my sons bus probably wouldn’t have seen my son standing there behind the mountain of snow.

    I ended up driving him as there wasn’t any safe option to have him wait for the bus.

    • sidewalks that are shoveled will allow children to walk safely to their bus stops. once they arrive at their bus stop, they can typically go off the sidewalk and walk towards their bus via the nearest opening to the street (closest driveway), once it comes. i assume the homeowner at your son’s corner does have a cleared driveway through which your son could access the street, should the sidewalk be cleared.

  8. The township and county don’t clear their own sidewalks so my kids can’t get to the bus stops safely: North Lake Drive near Hope Chapel Rd, Hope Chapel Road between N and S Lake and S Lake Drive near Hope. My kids are forced to walk in 45 MPH traffic with no shoulder.

  9. There is also the problem of all the places there are no sidewalks. There there is never a place to walk, even more so when there is snow on the shoulder.

  10. It’s sometimes worthwhile to think these ideas through… There are old people who cannot shovel many injuries and deaths have occurred from people who haven’t exercised and/or are disabled Who need to get out and shovel. What about the above 55 communities? There are many properties udeveloped too, Government owned properties etc so basically you’re putting the burden on the government which you can see how good they manage with the responsibilities they already have. It’s not the worst thing if everybody looks out for everybody else and watch for pedestrians walking in the street for a few days it is a lot simpler and cheaper. And possibly safer too

  11. The writer makes a good point.
    Except in some places, there IS NO sidewalk !!
    Let the TWSP first install a sidewalk – Then I’ll shovel it.

  12. that is a poor excuse! how do those elderly people put up their sukkas, or mow their lawns? how do able bodied homeowners clean their second story gutters or repair their broken air conditioning systems… being a homeowner comes (or should come) with responsibilities. you either maintain your home or hire someone to do so for you.

    and driving carefully will not help prevent skids when there is black ice on the road… b’h the aftermath of this snowstorm is warmer weather but sometimes it remains extremely icy and roads are narrowed for days!

  13. FYI Many developments have an HOA who is responsible for the clearing of the sidewalks… Go look for the master deed and you may be surprised to learn what else the HOA is responsible for.

  14. Not asking for the government to do anything. Just to enforce the laws that all other towns enforce.

    The 55+ places are always shoveled by the association and if you can’t shovel yourself than you can pay someone. If you own a house with public access it’s your responsibility.

  15. If yo are not able to maintain your property than “you” need to find an alternative but it’s not a היתר to maintain a בור ברשות הרבים!

  16. The law in NJ is that if someone falls on your property and gets injured, if it was due to nature- you are not responsible. But this only applies if you leave the snow completely untouched. Once you shovel, if you do a poor job and someone falls – you can be sued. Yes this is true. Feel free to look up the law. You don’t want to be liable, don’t touch the snow!

  17. I’d like to bring out a good side, i needed to dig my car out M.S. [in a development that has management] 3 yeshiva bachurim helped me shovel all the way to the main road that was [semi] plowe.


  18. Stupidity. It should be the town’s responsibility to clean the sidewalks!
    Plow the streets, pick up the garbage, pick up the leaves. Why shouldn’t the town be clearing the sidewalks?
    What else are exorbitant taxes for?

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