GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 13, 2013

Cleanup piles up at Stage Fort

City's storm cleanup making strides

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — GLOUCESTER — Two dump trucks, their beds piled high with snow, rumbled into the Stage Fort Park parking lot Tuesday afternoon, steady streams of snow water dripping and splattering across the lot behind them.

The drivers pulled up to a massive mound of snow, longer than a football field, and dumped their loads onto a pile already as high as the dump truck roofs. The driver of a small compact track loader machine splashed through the snow pile’s run off, scraping the machine’s bucket along the ground then lifting it to neaten and pack the snow that covered about a third of the lot already.

Department of Public Works Director Mike Hale said that, while the city would like to allow private snow removal companies to drop their snow at Stage Fort Park, he has to make sure that there is not only enough room for the snowy remnants of the weekend storm but for snow that might fall in coming days, like the snowfall expected Thursday and Saturday.

“If I run out of room there myself, I’m in a tough situation,” Hale said.

While the Good Harbor Beach parking lot stands as a solid Plan B for dumping the snow, ocean dumping is not an option here, Hale said.

At Logan Airport, trucks scrape the snow right into the ocean, but with all the urban debris that turns up in plowed snow, Hale said dumping the snow in the harbor could also mean dropping Christmas trees, recycling bins, trash cans, snow shovels, shopping carts and other litter into the sea.

“It’s amazing what you find, and if that’s not addressed in the situation, that stuff winds up in the ocean,” Hale said. “Snow removal is very challenging as far as what you can do with it. You have very limited options.”

Crews began removing snow once the plowing was complete Monday morning, first tackling main roadways and finicky intersections. Much of Prospect Street was widened with snow cleared away during day hours Monday. And Monday night, public works workers tackled Main Street, creating spaces to park again after a couple days of spaces covered and meters buried in snow.

The employees worked day and night, toppling mounds of snow on Webster Street, East Gloucester Square, Lanesville Center and the intersection of Maplewood Avenue, Railroad Avenue and Prospect Street.

“We have what we have,” Hale said. “We’ll get to it all and, hopefully in a few weeks, we’ll look back and recall the Blizzard of 2013 as a pretty awesome event.”

But, as storm recovery work continues on the city level, Gloucester officials are also warning residents of lingering hazards — including the need to secure their own homes post storm by clearing snow from roofs and exhaust vents.

When a carbon monoxide alarm sounded at Wellspring House over the weekend, firefighters responded and cleared snow away from an outdoor vent, solving the problem. Public safety officials have warned people to heed the warnings of carbon monoxide detectors and to preemptively clear outdoor vents of snow.

Removing snow from rooftops will also help homeowners and residents avoid the risk of structural collapse — a risk elevated by the heavier dampened snow.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.