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Watertown parents complain of hazardous school bus stop conditions

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Arthur G. Deline has tried to get the city to make a Superior Street property owner shovel the public sidewalk in front of her property, where his grandson waits for a school bus.

But the snow keeps piling up.

His 10-year-old grandson, Dawson, a fifth-grader at H.T. Wiley Intermediate School, and about 10 other students from several city schools must wait in the street in front of 841-843 Superior St. because of the amount of piling snow.

Children who attend North Elementary, Wiley, Case Middle and Watertown High schools all get picked up or dropped off there. And parents are worried.

Jennifer L. Lynch waits with her two children, Amelia, 7, and Brennan, 11, every day until the bus comes. She insists the situation is an accident waiting to happen.

“Obviously, I think it’s dangerous,” she said. “It’s never done.”

A few days after the Dec. 21 ice storm, Amelia tried to board the bus but fell and landed in a snowbank, the little girl said.

The property owner, Carole Brady, could not be reached for comment.

School bus driver Betty J. Percoli said she has noticed that stretches of sidewalks and bus stops remain unshoveled along her route. She, too, is worried about the children, she said. Three weeks ago, Mr. Deline watched a little girl climb a snowbank and then fall when she tried to get on the school bus. She ended up rolling into the road. Fortunately, a car was not coming at that particular moment, he said.

After that, he called the city’s Department of Public Works and Code Enforcement office, in addition to talking to a police officer, about the situation. He was promised something would be done.

“They’ve done nothing,” he said.

Shawn R. McWayne, code enforcement officer, said his office has no complaints on file for that address, but does for a handful of other properties along Superior Street.

His office has not been able to do much about getting property owners to shovel the sidewalks this winter, he said.

Normally, property owners have 48 hours to remove snow, but it hasn’t stopped snowing to make them get the job done, Mr. McWayne said.

As the city’s ordinance is written, the 48-hour stipulation doesn’t apply if a snowstorm hits and is followed immediately by additional snowfall, even if just an inch falls, he said.

“It doesn’t distinguish snowstorms,” he said.

Once the snow stops, the code enforcement office will send out letters to property owners who violate the snow ordinance.

If sidewalks remain snow-covered, the city levies a $150 surcharge on the property owner. The Department of Public Works also sends a bill, the amount of which depends on how long it takes to clear the sidewalk and the type of equipment it takes to get walks cleaned off.

The codes office also has notified the DPW about sidewalks that obviously have not been shoveled this season, Mr. McWayne said. DPW crews then will do the work, Mr. McWayne said.

He also said the school district has no recourse in getting property owners to obey the city’s sidewalk ordinance.

Superintendent Terry N. Fralick said he received a complaint from a parent about the situation. He shares the woman’s frustration.

“I’d like to think that everybody would take responsibility to provide a safe environment for our kids,” he said.

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