New Brunswick Residents want reinforcement of resident snow-clearing policy

By: Samantha Guzman

The residents of New Brunswick have a message for their neighbors: the next time it snows, clear your sidewalks.

While the plowing of roadways is the city’s duty, it is the responsibility of the residents of New Brunswick to clear the sidewalks surrounding their homes. When asked, no one from the city offices was able to give a clear answer about the specifics or consequences of this policy, but the best suggestion was within 24 hours.

Mario Catalano, a resident of the Douglass neighborhood in New Brunswick, is one of many residents disgruntled by the conditions of his community.

“This snow removal system isn’t very effective,” Catalano said. “I almost missed work to shovel my sidewalk properly, while in the meantime a lot of people hadn’t shoveled theirs nearly a week after. Days after the storm, people had to walk in the middle of streets to avoid the more dangerous walkways.”

Catalano and others in the neighborhood say they believe the city is being too lenient in its enforcement of walkway clearing and should impose more aggressive actions and rigid penalties against those who do not do so without legitimate cause.   

Another resident of the Douglass neighborhood, Jhonatan Garcia, shared similar concerns regarding the safety of his community.

Garcia, like many in his neighborhood, does not own a vehicle and must rely on public transportation and walking to get around. Garcia said the sidewalks around the city and to the bus stops near his home were still blocked with snow weeks after the snowstorm, especially on street corners leading into crosswalks.

“At times you have to walk in the roads, specifically in residential areas, but even on George Street a few days after the storm,” Garcia said. “Around the time I’m walking home from the bus at rush hour, me and many others were forced to walk in busy roads, with cars inches away, like on George or Suydam Street because of the blocked paths.”

Garcia said that while there are many Rutgers students in the area, there are also a great number of families with small children and elderly people whose safety is put at risk due to these snow-blocked walkways, crosswalks, and neglected ice patches.

“A lot of my neighbors don’t have cars either,” Garcia said, “so they need to walk. There are also a lot of older people who can’t really be mobile with the snow and ice, whether driving or walking, and there are a lot of kids too. I live near a school and most of them have to walk instead of taking the bus so they’re constantly in danger, especially when they have to walk in the roads.”

When it comes to safety though, it’s not just children or the elderly that have concerns, but also those with disabilities or injuries. Christina Garguilo, a second-year Rutgers student residing off-campus, is one of these people.

“I’ve had a bad leg since a high school soccer injury. If I slip and fall I can easily tear my ACL again,” Garguilo said.

Because of the lingering snow and ice Garguilo, who typically walks everywhere, says she was forced to take longer alternative routes to avoid ice or use her car to take even short trips to the corner market.

While Garguilo states her injury is only a mild inconvenience, she also states there are many residents and pedestrians with more severe injuries and disabilities who are put into great danger or made immobile due to the negligence of many in the community.