2015-03-05 / Opinion

Winter Brings Out the Best, Worst


Extension Street residents await trash pick up and winter thaw. Extension Street residents await trash pick up and winter thaw. We don’t often feel winter’s wrath in Newport like we’ve felt it this year. Although our curbs are piled unusually high with snow, and while on-street parking will remain a nightmare until warmer temperatures arrive, we should all be happy that we’re not Boston.

Indeed, Bostonians have endured more snow than we have—by a lot—and they would laugh out loud at us for lamenting our “plight.”

But all is not lost in this record-breaking winter. Both the city and neighbors have stepped up to help each other in trying times, but everyone is being stretched pretty thin.

The city’s foresight in permitting motorists to park for free during snowy weather in the garage and lot by the Marriott Hotel and Gateway Center has been a godsend for residents.

We know some smart people who drive their cars to the garage at the first hint of snow. If they get there early enough, they secure a spot in the garage’s lower levels. That means no wiping snow off the car when it’s once again safe to drive, a real treat.

Stories of random acts of kindness, many done anonymously, have abounded in recent weeks. Between digging out cars, clearing sidewalks, uncovering hydrants, and fetching groceries for the homebound, Newporters have really shown what we are made of.

But we can all do better.

Navigation of many city streets remains difficult, and sometimes impossible. With so many houses without driveways in the crowded downtown area, cars park on one side of most streets all day—making plowing uneven or nearly impossible post-storm. Many normal street parking spots have been temporarily eliminated by the snow. And when people emerge to clean snow off their cars, they add even more snow to the curbside piles.

Trash pickups have been troublesome, compromised by evernarrowing snow piled streets. The photo below of Extension Street shows both cars and trash blanketed by snow. Residents report they are lucky to get trash removed every two weeks, with the city unable to clear the roadway.

Even when trash is collected as scheduled, the situation is problematic across the city. Many sidewalks, if shoveled at all, are not much wider than a shovel’s width. Try walking down one of these compromised walkways on pickup day with large trash and recycling bins blocking the paths.

For some reason the trash and recycling buckets hang around on sidewalks longer than usual in snow season. Do some people think that the snow gives them license to leave these trash and recycling bins in front of their houses rather than tucked away after pickup? If your bins are out, bring them in; if your neighbors are struggling, help them out. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Able-bodied Newporters, take heed and step up. We are all tired, but it is far better to lend a helping hand than to need one. We are all in this together.

Come on Newport, we can be better.

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