Are all hands on the pump?

Commentary by Suzette Standring
New England snow is the lay of our land, and the Boston area is coming to a standstill.  While “unprecedented snow,” “snow budget exceeded,” “where to put the snow,” and “aging infrastructure”are issues, I question if every hand is truly to the pump.

Boston has issued 1,500 citations for unshoveled sidewalks and parking as well as 400 tickets for blocking intersections.  Residents are pummeled by storms and punished by ordinances.
Yet I wonder if politics is not involved in light of the fact that Massachusetts has a new governor, Charlie Baker, a new Boston mayor, Marty Walsh, and a new secretary of transportation, Stephanie Pollock.
There are those who would love to see our new leaders fail and I wonder if non-cooperation by various factions might play a part.
Deeper digging needs to be done, and I’m not talking about just the snow.  Once this ordeal is over, a listing of names and companies who refused to help should be made public.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all those clearing the snow and working to exhaustion, but are “all” hands to the pump? Are there those who are “not available” as a negotiating tool for personal agendas?  After all, cronyism is not unheard of in Boston.
I’m not wrong to question why a major world city renowned for harsh winters can’t get its city moving.
Compared to the total snowfall in Boston this year, 60.8 inches, Worcester totals 77.7 inches.  Worcester’s snow guidelines has its trucks salting the roads at the start of a every snowfall, and will clear the roads whenever snow measures two inches.  It offers residents free sand at DPW yards. In comparison, Boston has no defined schedule, but plenty on what residents must do and what fines they will incur if they don’t.
Worcester has not exceeded it’s $4 million snow removal budget (although close), while Boston is already over its $18 million limit.
In Worcester, fees to park at municipal garages have been waived by City Manager Edward Augustus.  What kind of breaks are hardworking people in Boston getting?
Protecting Boston’s citizenry:  abbreviated subway schedules, parking bans, school closings, maybe a future statewide travel ban.
What about protecting the jobs of thousands who need to work?
Leaders are elected to lead for a reason.  People are supposed to listen to you!  Instead of whining about historic snowfalls and boasting about record citations of already victimized citizens,  how about coordinating grassroots efforts to get resident snow shovelers and plow and dump trucks to work in concert if need be? Get public parking lot owners on board to do a huge public service and waive parking fees for a while.  If the Big Dig found areas for tonnage of soil for years, why can’t park or open areas be found temporarily for snow dump?
New England’s culture is founded on its historic ability to get through the seemingly impossible.  It’s based on questioning and never accepting “it can’t be done.” We need creative, can-do leaders and everyone under them pulling in the same direction. It’s galling to have the rest of the nation pitying us.
– Suzette Standring

  5 comments for “Are all hands on the pump?

  1. Rick Malmstrom
    February 9, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    This “Commentary” is so awful on so many fronts, I don’t know where to start. So I won’t.

  2. Tom Callahan
    February 10, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Well said, Rick

  3. Bill Mullen
    February 13, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    To see how how snow removal is done in other cities, using modern
    Technology check You Tube sites showing how it’s done in Oslo and Montreal. By the way how come Boston has no snow melters? I know why-IT MAKES TOO MUCH SENSE!

  4. Jim Finnigan
    February 13, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Given the way the T has performed lately you do have to wonder.

  5. February 13, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Prudent planning and budgeting involves making investments appropriate to needs. The current historic levels of snowfall shouldn’t be employed as a standard for assessing such needs.

    The city of Boston receives just over 40 inches of snow per year on average. Montreal receives over 80 inches of snow per year, and Oslo almost 80 inches. Now, we are in the midst of an unusual weather season that might result in Boston meeting or exceeding the AVERAGE snowfall of Montreal and Oslo. But in the last century, there are only 5 or 6 years in which Boston snowfall has reached the levels of the two other cities.

    As for “snow melters”, the city of Anchorage Alaska (75 inches of snow per year) evaluated them in 2007. eet/Snow%20Melt%20Analysis.pdf

    I think it’s safe to say that the city of Boston is quite able to assess its ongoing needs based on normal experience, not very rare occurrences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *