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.

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