Frank and Carol Caro, with Ruthann Dobek of the Council on Aging and the Brookline Senior Center, and members of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service, formed The Brookline Community Aging Network in 2011. The organization’s principal purpose is to ensure a place for our older Brookline residents as a vital part of the town’s social, cultural and civic life, according to BCAN’s mission statement.
I recently visited with BCAN Co-Chair, Frank Caro, in his beautiful Beacon Street home. While most see the organization as an advocacy group for Brookline seniors, and the amount of resources they provide in this realm is outstanding, these people are real patriots of our community as a whole. Caro, “We focus on Brookline as a good place for people to live from a commercial, cultural, and walkable perspective. We are real Brookline boosters. We support the more vulnerable population in our community.”
BCAN offers seniors valuable information on transportation, recreation, education and news. One of my favorite initiatives is an online guide to places with elevators.
Frank Caro and his organization have gotten attention after submitting Warrant Article 28 for Town Meeting approval. Article 28 seeks better enforcement of Town bylaw 7.7.1, which requires the property owners in business districts to maintain the sidewalks adjacent to their land in a non-slippery condition suitable for pedestrian travel within the first 3 daytime hours after snow and maintain the sidewalk in that condition thereafter.
According to Caro, “Presently we have a complaint driven system, but if you submit a complaint on a Thursday night for instance, the issue may not be addressed until the next Monday. The Town’s protocol for snow removal is to take care of the streets first, then intersections, and finally pedestrian areas like the commercial districts.” Warrant Article 28 would require the town to proactively deploy enforcement officers on foot in business districts beginning in the 4th daylight hour after snowfall to enforce Section 7.7.1.
Before filing Article 28, Frank met with Town Administrator Mel Kleckner, DPW and had conversations with the town’s Economic Development Department. Caro, “Once we found out it was a complaint driven system, we decided to be proactive in our complaints.” BCAN’s Livable Community Advocacy Committee hit the streets to monitor snow and ice removal activity and reported what they found to the Town, including violators of the Town Bylaw.
Working with any government large or small can be frustrating at times. Frank comments, “You shouldn’t have to go to Town Meeting to get a Town Bylaw enforced.” BCAN’s position is their resolution is just a starting place; several blind spots exist in the snow removal process making it difficult for residents, especially older residents to navigate.
The issue in this publication’s view is money and resources. The Department of Public Works has to grow accordion-like during snow emergencies, forcing them to set priorities in snow removal. You can only work with what you’ve got and the Town Agencies involved in getting Brookline back in business after snow emergencies are stretched to the limit. We support the formation of a Town Administrator’s Task Force to help address the problem. We believe a combination of Town, resident, business and volunteer efforts working in concert can best address the situation. Perhaps utilizing non-profits like Paul Epstein’s Youthscapers can be part of the solution.
Harvey Bravman, Publisher