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Snow job

Snow is a big thing here in New England. (Maybe not as big as certain parts of upstate New York, but it is.) And one of the bigger issues is how to get rid of it.

Getting rid of snow doesn't seem like it should be much of a problem. After all, it's just really, really cold rain water. Why not treat it as such?

Well, for one, it's not a liquid. It doesn't "flow" like water. It tends to sit where it lands for a while -- sometimes months.

For another, it collects stuff. Nasty stuff. Then it becomes "slush," and getting rid of it is a whole 'nother ball of wax, 'cuz slush is bad for rivers, as well as just plain gross.

In a lot of cities, they set aside a whole parking lot (or several) as snow collecting grounds. Trucks go around and collect it from certain areas, then just dump it and leave it for Mother Nature to fix.

They have some heavy-duty custom equipment to deal with it, too. I saw in Lebanon a "snow-sucker" that was scooping up the six-foot-high banks along a main street and tossing it into the bed of a dump truck alongside -- and there was a line of empties just waiting behind that one. And in Manchester, they had little baby snowplows that cleared the sidewalks.

But in Boston, the city is apparently too cheap to do its job. They've passed an ordinance making property owners responsible for removing the snow and ice in front of their buildings. And if they don't keep it clear, they get fined.

Amazing. Here the property owners are being given the responsibility for maintaining public property, without any sort of compensation. They don't own it, they can't use it for their own purposes, they don't even get a "break" to pay for them keeping up the city's property.

And what if the owner is too elderly or infirm to take care of it? What will the city do?

Why, it'll encourage their neighbors to clear the sidewalk for them.

I always thought that was the kind of thing people pay taxes for -- to maintain the roads and sidewalks, among other things. But not in Massachusetts.

Comments (21)

We have the same law here i... (Below threshold)

We have the same law here in New York. It's really not that onerous. It would be something else entirely if the city made you plow the street as well as your sidewalk.

Do you mean the street/park... (Below threshold)

Do you mean the street/parking area, too? That would indeedbe a bit much, but I think having to keep the sidewalk clear is the norm, mot the exception. That's why showblowers are so popular and how kids earn extra cash.

Yeah, here in NYC, you've g... (Below threshold)

Yeah, here in NYC, you've got liability for the sidewalks on your property, whether for snow & ice or for uneven pavement and tree roots.

I don't see what the big deal is.

Could be worse Jay,<p... (Below threshold)
Brian the Adequate:

Could be worse Jay,

In Indianapolis, they don't plow the "residential" streets, but will fine you if you don't clear the sidewalk in front of your house along the streets they don't plow.

Brian the Adequate <p... (Below threshold)

Brian the Adequate

Now that's awful! I live in a small college town, and the powers that be do a great job of plowing all the streets.

I just hate it when the side stuff from the plow blocks my driveway, and we have to dig it out, but that's why I have kids.

It seem's pretty common in ... (Below threshold)

It seem's pretty common in places I've lived, (Milwaukee and Detroit areas) for the homeowner to be responsible for clearing 'their' sidewalk. Also the home owner is the one with a special assessment if a square of the sidewalk needs to be replaced.

My current property ends 1 foot before the edge of the sidewalk.

goddess et als -- there is ... (Below threshold)

goddess et als -- there is a flip side to the obligation to clear the sidewalk in front of your place -- if you shovel out the parking spaces on the street, you can put "placeholder" stuff in the spaces and keep them for yourself until the snow melts. This is sort of the "law of the street," and the mayor here tried last winter to end it, but he got pummeled by the folks in Southie, so he backed off.

Another oddity in this sidewalk-clearing obligation is they actually tell you that you aren't allowed to throw the snow into the street. That leaves you with the 2 foot wide strip between sidewalk and street to pile everything up, making it difficult to enter or exit a parked car from the sidewalk.

Hea Mon, why you no wait on... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:

Hea Mon, why you no wait on eet to melt, like we do down hear in the Bahamas.

BTW: I'm wintering on my boat, down hear in the Bahamas. It got down to (60) last night, and I damn near froze to death. With that 20 knot wind we had all day yesterday, we couldn't even go to the pool. Life sucks, and then you die.

Hey, for you poor latitudin... (Below threshold)

Hey, for you poor latitudinally challenged, even here above 46 degrees we have all rain and no snow (well, OK we had one inch this year that lasted less than a week, a lot more than previously normal thanks to global warming). So like, gee, PC, uh hope you have your tire chain and snowplow peripherals for Vista, man.

'Course if my house slides down the hill, I'll be responsible for pulling it back up. Damn intrusive city government. Another 2 inches forecast for the wet precipitation type.

Many states and localities ... (Below threshold)

Many states and localities have laws that require the clearing of snow and ice within a defined period after the end of snowfall with a fine attached to those who do not clear the snow.

Also, NYC and other cities have either purchased or rented specific machinery that helps melt the snow to remove it more quickly. NYC has a bunch of the machines that enable the city to clear 60 tons an hour per machine. It is quicker and more efficient than trucking it over to the river where it is dumped.

I remember a news story a c... (Below threshold)

I remember a news story a couple of winters ago about an old feeble man being jailed because his side walk in front of his house was not cleared. He couldn't do himself and couldn't afford to pay some kid 50 bucks a whack to clear it.

I remember seeing him interviewed and he seemed like one of those old guys that always yelled at everyone to get off his lawn. I guess that's why no one would help him out.

Saw this on T.V....I can't find the story on the web...Anyone else remember it?

Here in Minneapolis, not on... (Below threshold)
No One of Consequence:

Here in Minneapolis, not only are we responsible for clearing our sidewalks of snow, I pay about $9 a month on my utility bill for rainwater that falls on my property and runs off into the sewers.

I have to say, though, I've generally found the street plowing to be excellent here.

Oh, and apparently they jai... (Below threshold)

Oh, and apparently they jailed the old man because he refused to pay the fines.

Dang, when I saw the title,... (Below threshold)

Dang, when I saw the title, "Snow Job," I quickly jumped to the conclusion that Mr. Tea's essay would be about Tony Snow. Upon reading further, I found I was mistaken. But as it is winter, it does make sense to spend some time examining problems caused by the white stuff. After all, the White House Press Secretary gives his snow jobs the whole year around, so the problems he causes can be discussed later on.

Liberals pass dumb laws the... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Liberals pass dumb laws then they dont abid by them but demand everybody else dose

Does Hezbollah know about t... (Below threshold)

Does Hezbollah know about those "snow suckers". Sound like something they'd oppose in Lebanon.
And snow in Manchester? What are you smoking, the pollution over there would melt the stuff on contact. Is Ace giving you Valu Rite Vodka?

Y'know, I think Jay is righ... (Below threshold)

Y'know, I think Jay is right on this one. The state should pay for every convenience, every service the populace can conceive of -- surely this is why we have taxes, yes?

Detroit used to not plow re... (Below threshold)

Detroit used to not plow residential streets, until a few epic snows in 1999 got their attention that that wasn't tenable.

I believe this is the law i... (Below threshold)

I believe this is the law in Alexandria, Virginia as well. But I live in an apartment, so I am not sure.

Brian the Adequate: You ca... (Below threshold)

Brian the Adequate: You can either pay sufficient taxes to fund proper snow removal or you can do without plowing the secondary streets. I notice that the Republicans can't even find a willing sacrifice to run against Mayor Bart so it seems the people there are pretty satisfied with the job he's doing.

Anyway, we live in the 'burbs of Anderson and our streets were cleared several times over on the day of the snow and several more times the following day. The plows were even out after that dusting we had on Saturday so things are pretty good up here. And in the interest of full disclosure, our mayor is Republican, but I have to give him credit for handling this very well.

BTW, were you around for the Blizzard of '78? I think it's hilarous that they called this a blizzard...

BTW, were you arou... (Below threshold)
BTW, were you around for the Blizzard of '78? I think it's hilarous that they called this a blizzard

I was 17 years old in 1978 and it was considered undisputable science that an ice age was approaching especially after that blizzard. I grew up in Northern Ohio. (Norwalk)

If anyone dared to tell me otherwise that this was just a weather pattern I would consider them totally misinformed or blind.

So when we see the opposite hysteria (global warming) I'm reminded of my own gullibility because the science was so advanced in 1978.

And I thought bell-bottoms looked cool too. (Even with bicycle chain holes)






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