’Sno’ Problem in Winthrop

WINTHROP – If you’re are going to complain about the snow and want any sympathy talk to someone in Buffalo.

That’s exactly what town officials did. As a result, a crew from Buffalo, NY brought some equipment and a few men to help the town manage the over 70 inches of snow that has been dumped on Winthrop in the last three weeks.

Fire Chief Paul Flanagan, who is also the town’s Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency representative for the town, helped broker the use of equipment and personnel from out of state.

Armed with three men and a special bench plow, the out-of-state visitors have been doing a great, but unpopular task – pushing back the snow to make the streets wider. As a result snow does get pushed back onto sidewalks that have been nicely shoveled by residents.

“We appreciate the challenge, it’s not lost on us,” Town Manager James McKenna said during Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting, adding that he understands people are tired of shoveling and re-shoveling. The Department of Public Works crews feel the same way. “We are looking for patience and partnership. We need to keep having residents shovel and move cars for plowing.”

“We have the fighting force that will take on Goliath,” McKenna said of the DPW workers, police and fire. “But we can’t do it in every instance.”

Council President Peter Gill said he has shoveled five times in a day, but he is grateful the streets can be clear for fire, police and ambulance services can get around. There are 11 snow routes for plowing in town.

While Winthrop has been given permission by the Department of Environmental Protection to dump snow in the ocean it has not been doing that. Flanagan said the town doesn’t really have a good beach to use for dumping. They have set up snow parks near the Belle Isle Cemetery and Ingleside Park. The snow is then being trucked to the MWRA property, but not for dumping. Flanagan said that would be a last resort and before they do dump they have to get permission from the town’s Conservation Commission.

         McKenna thanked residents for understanding in a time of unprecedented, historic snowfall. The town will continue to send out Code Red telephone calls to keep residents up to date on plowing plans and closures. Residents can sign up for the service on the town’s website. Since the blizzard a couple weeks ago 300 new people have signed up. Now 10,013 residents get the calls. So far there have been nine snow days for the schools. Town hall has been closed a couple of times, but this Friday it will make up some of the hours by being open from 9 am to Noon.

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