Item Photo By OWEN O’ROURKE
Matt Kulakowski of Meninno Construction plows the parking lot at Lynn Classical High School Tuesday morning. The snow had changed to rain at this point and most plowing was of slush.
By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
LYNN — The first storm of the season Tuesday morning prompted the implementation of the city’s improved snow removal processes, developed after last year’s record-setting snowfall and messy street conditions.
“I hope it doesn’t snow like last year, but if it does, we are ready for it,” said Department of Public Works Commissioner Andrew Hall.
Hall said a subcommittee of the Public Works Committee was formed last year to improve the city’s reaction to snow emergencies. While those working on snow removal did a great job, Hall said it was difficult to keep up with the volume and frequency of last year’s storms.
“We were losing a lot of contractors to other cities and towns so we started raising the rates,” said Ward 2 Councilor William Trahant, who was involved with forming the subcommittee, along with colleagues Darren Cyr (Ward 3) and Buzzy Barton (at-large).
The subcommittee spent eight weeks collaborating and figuring out what could be done better, Trahant said.
“We started a committee and worked on what was wrong and tried to correct some of it,” he said. “We talked about what we thought the problem was and put a pretty good plan together that I think is going to be very good.”
The committee looked at what the city was paying its snow plow contractors and quickly realized a change needed to be made, he said.
“We did some research and found that on the bigger equipment, we were way down, compared to other cities and towns,” Trahant said. “We all came together with it and decided that we needed to raise the (pay) rates.”
“We raised the rates for snow plowing contractors,” Hall said. “Our goal is to entice heavier vehicles to plow for us. The heavier the truck, the better it can push the snow.”
“I just think we had the wrong equipment,” Trahant said. “We were hiring too many little trucks. When you have a winter like we had, that’s when you find out what your problem is.”
For a standard pickup truck with a plow, such as an F-250, 2,500 model or equivalent, the rate was raised from $70 to $75 an hour. For an F-350, 3,500 model or equivalent, it was raised from $74 to $90 an hour. A contractor using a six-wheel truck with a plow would have made $78 an hour last year and will make $148 an hour this year. The rate varies depending on the size of the truck, but can reach up to $190 an hour this year.
The city has already hired 220 snow plow contractors and has about 50 of its own plow trucks, Hall said.
Other companies are contracted for specific snow removal jobs, such as Meninno Construction Company, which is responsible for the schools and off-street parking for the city, said plow truck driver Matt Kulakowski.
“I think last winter was great,” Kulakowski said. “I loved it. I hope it’s worse this year.”
The DPW is still accepting independent snow plow contractor applications, which can be found on the DPW website.
“The truck has to be three-quarters (of a) ton or larger and there are some insurance requirements,” Hall said.
The fine for impeding snow removal was also increased from $30 to $100 and the fine for parking illegally during a snow emergency was increased from $50 to $150, Hall said.
“We’ve also increased the fine for people throwing snow into the street and plowing it into the street,” Cyr said. “We have chasers go around and check every single street. When (a street is clear), (residents) are not to throw snow back into the street.
“We needed the public to know that when we call a storm emergency then we are serious about it,” Cyr said. “Snow plowing is about public safety.”
“We have to take a look at what happened last year and want to make sure we are ready and prepared for it, no matter what comes,” he said.
Cyr commended the work of the committee for coming up with a new plan for the city. He said it was formed by people from all different departments involved in snow removal. Yet, he said, everyone worked together very well.
“When the snow comes, we’re going to do a lot better job this year,” Trahant said. “I feel confident that you’re going to see a lot better (of a) job done.”
“I think we are a lot better prepared this year than we’ve ever been,” Cyr said.
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]