Take This Job And Shovel It!

An alert and in-the-Christmas-mood “06880” reader ventured downtown yesterday.

Ready for some holiday shopping, he was surprised to see so many uncleared Main Street sidewalks, 2 days after Saturday’s snow.

It was piled high in front of vacated stores like Talbot’s and Kate Spade. There were also “half-hearted attempts” to clear the way in front of several open-for-business places. Nike and Papyrus are 2 that he singled out.

“Rather than being obsessed with parking shortages downtown, it seems the merchants should make clearing the walks a priority,” he says.

And, he adds — tongue in cheek? fist cocked? — “I know ‘06880’ has made a 2nd career out of bashing local businesses. So I want to make sure you’re on the lookout during today’s snow.”

In this scene from last winter, no one had yet cleared the streets -- or sidewalks. (Photo/Katherine Hooper)

In this scene from last winter, no one had yet cleared the streets — but some sidewalks were done. (Photo/Katherine Hooper)

39 responses to “Take This Job And Shovel It!

  1. Luisa Francoeur

    Maybe the town should shovel and then send a hefty bill to each store whose sidewalk has been cleared. Could this financial “incentive” do the trick?

  2. Jaclyn Jeffrey

    Not leaving open the possibility they couldn’t find their shovels? 😉 Kidding! I am starting to feel like Sally Field…

  3. Perhaps theTowm could shovel “for the safety of the citizens” and bill the landlords, who would pass it on to each tenant proportionately. Some stores have no one young enough to shovel. If the remnant fails to shovel, it falls to the landlord…who’s in the Bahamas. This happens EVERY SNOWSTORM. Time for a proactive long term solution. Where’s the DMA ?

  4. More gigs for SLOBs?!

  5. Ann Marie Flynn

    Wonderful idea, John. And they do super work on assignments. They are a super gift to Westport.

  6. I worked in the town of Mt. Kisco for 10 years. On the main shopping street, in front of three stores, the sidewalks were practically shoveled dry (Chinese take out, Korean green grocer, and one jewelry store). The others were treacherous paths, unshoveled. Not even the banks cleaned their walks well. Nor Starbucks, Chicos or all the fancy little boutiques. One year I got so angry, I went back to my office and on screaming bright paper, I Xeroxed signs that said, “DO NOT PATRONIZE ANY STORE THAT HAS NOT ADEQUATELY CLEARED ITS SIDEWALK. THOSE MERCHANTS DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR SAFETY” and I taped them to the front of every offending store window. I still feel that way. If the sidewalk is not shoveled, I will not go inside the store!

    BTW, it’s probably in a store’s lease that sidewalks must be kept cleared. This is not the town’s responsibility, it is a merchant’s. A fine might go a long way in getting the sidewalks shoveled.

  7. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70


  8. Sandy Soennichsen

    I’ve seen this over and over again through the years, and it is does get ridiculous. I also complained to a landlord yesterday and here’s the story: each store is only responsible for clearing “x” number of feet in front of their establishment, to where the town owns the rest of the sidewalk, about 5 feet from the curb in. The town is responsible for clearing that area. However, they contract that out, they don’t do it themselves. The contractor is supposed to clear the rest of the sidewalk and plow the road.
    Now, in my personal opinion, the contractor/town has really sucked at that the last few years. I had some friends stop by yesterday morning and the man is handicapped. It required a couple of people to help him from the street onto the sidewalk because of the snow and ice left there. Now that’s deplorable.
    What I was told by the landlord was that it only gets done properly if people complain to the town, starting with DPW and including copies to the First Selectman.
    Can we get a copy of this blog sent over to the DPW and Jim Marpe? Maybe Marpe can use the $125,000 for an aid that he tried to fill when he was sworn in and use it instead to add to cleaning the sidewalks properly.

  9. Sandy Soennichsen

    That was easy enough. I just sent an email to the First Selectman and Stephen Edwards, Director of DPW, to inform them of this blog and our comments and also told them how terrible the sidewalks were. Easy enough to do; email selectman@westportct.gov and sedwards@weatportct.gov.

  10. Now we know why those stores were keeping their doors open letting the heat out during those cold spells….warming the sidewalks to melt the ice!

  11. David Loffredo

    Without the trees and with unshoveled sidewalks, Main Street has never looked worse….and that ridiculous hack overhead light strand we look pathetic. Drive downtown Darien, New Canaan, Ridgefield….we are an embarassment. I have no idea what the DMA and/or the Downtown Study group (or whatever they’re called) does, but whatever it is it’s not being done well.

  12. Michael Calise

    Read Section 50 of the Town Code – all business owners and property owners are required to keep the sidewalks in front of their property clear of ice and snow regardless of ownership. The only responsibility public works has is enforcement

    • That’s the problem. Enforcement and fines are days and weeks AFTER THE SNOW INFRACTION, and are often less expensive than the fine…if there is one.

  13. Michael Calise

    violation occurs within 24 hours – each day of non-compliance is an infraction – given the frontage of each store after the first citation it will be far cheaper to buy a snow shovel for the employees –

    • If that were true, Mike, and citations were issued, the streets would be clean. But they are not. So …??
      Now what ?

  14. I have not been to Westport in about 10 years…is that really what Main St looks like? I do not recognize it at all!

  15. Sandy Soennichsen

    I stand corrected, by Stephen Edwards and another landlord, the merchant is responsible for the sidewalk in front of the store to the curb. The town is responsible for the street curb to curb. My apologies for making wrongful accusations. However, even on Monday Main Street was not done well.

  16. So here’s the solution. If the town is keeping the street clear but the merchants won’t clear the sidewalks — park on the sidewalks and walk in the street. (Kidding…)

    • Jaclyn Jeffrey

      Andy, great idea… as we know, that strategy seems to be working at Playhouse Square (even when there is no snow, just a mad rush to get that min-muffin;)

      • Yeah but after giving it more thought I fear that soon some self-entitled, over-privileged, Gucci-wearing, alluenza-suffering Westporter, in a designer JEEP mind you, will park in the street while the rest of us park on the sidewalk… You just can’t win.

        • Jaclyn Jeffrey

          Andy, excellent point! As I think I may have mentioned in a previous post… if you want to see sense of entitlement run amok you must pay Starbucks (near the Sherwood Diner) a visit early AM, mid-day, end of the day… cars everywhere, fist fights over parking spaces, double parked all along the side of the building under the No Parking signs… nothing is sacred in the name of a latte.

  17. I took a friend from Canada shopping in Westport yesterday and we were surprised at all the ice in front of the stores. She said that in Canada the stores would be fined for not properly clearing their sidewalks!

  18. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Yes, and our Traffic and Parking Bylaw requires homeowners to remove snow/ice from sidewalks and footpaths adjacent to properties within 24 hours of the cessation of snow accumulation, or be fined.

  19. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    Now at 61.5, I understand why my late, great, wise and Westport lifer mother always referred to it under her breath as: “White Sh-t!” ;-(

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      That’s too bad. People here where I live would love to see snow more often. Rain is lovely for our gardens and trees, but snow is special.

      • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

        It was my mother, not me. I’m planning to return to the NE after 23 years of exile in the Midwest. If the snow stops when I get there, I’ll be crushed.

  20. Mr. Yemma posits a “…self-entitled, over-priviliged, Gucci-wearing, affluenza-suffering Westporter…” and it seems to me that this characterization and others like it are rife – at least on Mr. Woog’s blog. I like to think that most of the folks living here are decent, generous, thoughtful and generally good people. Sure, there are some jackasses, but they’re everywhere; I don’t think that Westport has more than it’s share. But maybe I’m wrong. Or maybe I’m living in a rose-colored bubble. Or maybe I’m travelling in the wrong circles. I like the people I know here in Westport, and I’m saddened that some of us seem to feel that so many Westporters are so dramatically flawed.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Well, I’ve lived everywhere but grew up poorer than many in Westport. Jackasses are indeed everywhere, but there is something about an affluent jackass that is particularly hard to take. However, Westport is not the only place with affluent jackasses. It does have many of them, though. Despite that, I think its OK if you can find things to do that have eluded the jackasses. But, now that I think of it, I can’t think of many jackasses I’ve known that weren’t affluent. Still, it’s worth putting up with, the restaurants are great, the girls are fabulous and its on the water. I miss it. but not the jackasses.

    • Sven, I tought I made it pretty clear those comments were in jest. Happy Holidays!

    • I agree

  21. Sandy Soennichsen

    Sven, I wish what you are saying is true but I somehow feel that deepdown, Westport probably has more than it’s share of the self-entitled and over-privileged. And even as a minority, they are the most noticeable and make it worse for everyone else. However, I don’t think we have too many Gucci-wearers anymore.

    • As far as “Westport probably has more than it’s share of the self-entitled and over-privileged” – I strongly disagree, general sentiments of this blog notwithstanding. I have not given up on this Town being special, and different from similar towns (in terms of population and affluence) regarding self-entitled and over-privileged attitudes. And, time and time again, in ways large and small, we have proven this to be true – at least to me. As Sven said above, there are some jackasses, but they’re everywhere; I don’t think that Westport has more than its share – in fact I think we have less.

      Relating this point to the topic at hand, most stores downtown are not owned or occupied by Westport residents, and many, if not most, shoppers downtown are not Westport residents. There isn’t much in respect of personal conduct downtown that is properly attributable to being representative of Westport attitudes and behaviors.

  22. Sandy Soennichsen

    Tom, want to split the work? You patrol the beach and waterfront, I’ll patrol downtown (but not the Post Road). It’s Westport’s Black Ops at work.

  23. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    At least nobody’s complaining about yellow snow.

  24. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    How did this simple topic of snow shovelling become one of “affluenza”?
    (surely Webster’s next top new word choice)

  25. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Beware Westport. The definition of “affluenza” may be cross referenced with you.