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Is It A Civic Responsibility to Help Clean the Snow in Neighborhoods?

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

I stood with a gray haired man at a bus stop across the street from PCCC. We had nothing in common, but the shared experience of shivering from cold, as our feet were seeped into a foot of snow waiting for the bus. To speed time, we spoke and discussed the hardships for those who have to take the bus in harsh weather. “At home it is worse. There is no pathway to walk to the bus, I have no space to walk on the sidewalk.... I have to walk in the street and risk getting hit by a car,” said the man.

Since the beginning of February, Paterson has experienced long lasting snow storms leaving mountains of hardened snow on side streets and sidewalks—making it impossible for pedestrians.

Despite Paterson’s public works, the snow clean-up has been a slow process and many have complained about its efforts. However, due to the storm lasting 3-days, public works is working as diligently as it could. Unfortunately, the snow fall still continues and aggravated the issue.

This dilemma has caused all to question civic responsibility and who should prioritize it.

“My neighbors and I get our shovels and clean up our streets sidewalks. We know that some are disabled, old or stuck at home with kids. If the city isn’t going to clean, we need to step in,” said 26 year-old, Jose Centeno.

“I’m grateful for this man who lives two houses down, he practically shoveled the whole block and laid salt. He didn’t have to do that, but it definitely makes life easier,” said a Paterson citizen.

“I just stay home, it is not my job to clean the snow. I pay taxes and deserve a good quality of life,” said another Paterson citizen.

Civic responsibility means to be an active participant of public life within the community for the common good.

Within the Winter EOF/TRIO Leadership Conference, Clifton Councilwoman Rosemary Pino stated, “everyone should aspire to have civic responsibility to some degree. We all are a part of the community.”

While most agree that it is a right to have snow cleaned by public works, others also agree it is a civic responsibility to have a hand in cleaning neighborhood sidewalks when able.

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