Starts & Stops

Calls, photos, texts get quick action

At Clarendon Street and Columbus Avenue, snow blocked a handicapped-parking spot.
At Clarendon Street and Columbus Avenue, snow blocked a handicapped-parking spot.Credit: The Boston Globe

The storm that struck the region just after the new year plastered city streets and sidewalks with snow, but it largely melted away within a few days.

In most places, that is.

I received a photo after the storm of a handicapped-parking spot on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Clarendon Street . The problem: It was unparkable. Gritty and brown, a pile of snow had been plowed into the spot, preventing the space from being used days after the rest of the parking spots on the block were obstruction-free.

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“It’s outrageous that a wheelchair spot is used as a snow pile dump,” wrote the reader who, it bears noting, uses handicapped spots when she drives.

Not cool, city of Boston.

I contacted Kate Norton, spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh, explaining the problem and sending a photo of the spot. She jumped on the issue, contacting Michael Dennehy, interim commissioner of the Department of Public Works. Later that night, the pile of week-old snow had been removed.

“This one happened to slip through the cracks,” Norton said. She maintained that city staff would pay particular attention to that spot after future snowstorms.

And for similarly blocked spots or problematic sidewalk accumulations, Norton offered some advice: Sound the alarm!

There’s Citizens Connect , the smartphone app that allows residents to report problems in their neighborhood and send a photograph from their phone’s camera. Then there’s the good old telephone: The 24-hour constituent services line that came to fruition under Thomas Menino is still very much in operation under our new mayor at 617-635-4500, and it alerts city staff in real time.

“They work hard to ensure that every single space is cleared, but we do often rely on residents and business owners to be an additional set of eyes and ears,” Norton said.

Citizens Connect had one other related snow cleanup concern from this past storm: A resident reported on Jan. 11 that snow had been plowed over a sidewalk cutout, those ramps that allow wheelchairs to access the street, on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. Three days later, the problem was fixed.

A quick perusal of Citizens Connect brings to light some other vestiges of the snowstorm. In the Fenway, a snow pile blocking the sidewalk. A call for additional salting after melting snow froze over on Hillside Avenue in Forest Hills. And my personal favorite, from Brighton: “This person has put out ANOTHER traffic cone spacesaver, despite the fact that his last one was taken away. Can’t you issue him a citation?? This is ridiculous!!! . . . Sincerely, Mother of 2 small children who can never park near her own house.”

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