Snowed-under residents bemoan slow response by area DPW crews

Snow still coats Phillips Avenue in Lynn which wasn’t plowed during the snowstorm on Christmas Day. (Spenser R. Hasak)

A white Christmas might have looked good for picture-perfect memories, but not for residents awaiting a plowed street.

North Shore residents found themselves covered in a blanket of snow Monday morning with communities like Lynnfield totaling 5 inches by early afternoon and Marblehead 2.2 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

But Christmas cheer didn’t quiet critics of Monday’s cleanup and have caused residents to question how the next storm will be handled.

Andrew Hall, commissioner of the Lynn Department of Public Works (DPW), said despite the snowfall, the storm didn’t require plows.

Still, the DPW crew of 19 were out at 8 a.m. on Monday morning to salt the roads, Hall said.

Throughout the holiday and into Tuesday afternoon, the police scanner rang out with cars stuck in the snow that needed assistance.

Hall said crews continued to clean up after the snow overnight and into Tuesday morning, staying out longer than originally expected and doing the best job they could.

“We’ve had a number of complaints,” he said.

There were 15 accidents in Lynn since snowfall began early Monday morning, according to police. But it was unclear if they were all snow-related.

On Wednesday morning, side streets in the city were still covered in an inch of patted-down snow.

Residents of Seymour and Phillips avenues near Kiley Playground said they hadn’t seen anyone in city trucks plowing or taking care of their streets.

Mark Milliken of Mariana Street said his road hasn’t been taken care of either and wasn’t surprised the department of public works didn’t do their job correctly in terms of cleanup.

He said that between the almost $15,000 of federal and Massachusetts income taxes being taken from his payroll, in addition to the $1,500 a year he pays in tolls, he expects some sort of service for all he pays.

According to a Facebook post, city officials such as Ward 2 Councilor Rick Starbard said he even put a plow on his truck and began hitting the streets.

Diana Cameron, a Nells Pond Road resident, said the streets in her neighborhood were horrible.

“The conditions were very unsafe, especially after the storm ceased and the temperature lowered,” she said in a personal Facebook message. “Streets were not sanded nor plowed which created extremely slippery conditions.”

She said after seeing no presence on the 25th and 26th, she sent the commissioner an email regarding road conditions. As of today, her street has finally been cleaned, she said.

“The past six years have been an issue and I have made calls to this effect. I would like to see the roads plowed and sanded accordingly. Residents should not have to continuously make calls to get a job done. Making the roads safe should be a number-one priority,” she said.

Gino Cresta, Swampscott’s Department of Public Works director, said the town started salting the roads around 8:30 a.m. When the microburst of snowfall began as the morning progressed, Cresta said the trucks started plowing.

“Monday’s storm warranted plowing because we got three inches and we weren’t staying ahead of the storm by salting,” he said. “It’s cheaper for me to bring in the guys to plow than it is to continue to salt.”

A crew of 13 Swampscott DPW employees went out for the day, and completed their work by 6:30 p.m. Monday, Cresta said. He added that the only problems for drivers was maneuvering around parked cars from holiday parties and Christmas commuters.

A smaller crew of about three continued to scrape the roads on Tuesday.

“I think the roads look very good now,” he said.

Arthur Graves, director of Public Works at the Marblehead Highway Department, said he is happy with the town’s response to the snow on Monday, having sent out about 40 trucks to take care of the roads.

Despite covering all the routes, Graves said there has still been complaints but no more than a usual snowstorm.

“It was a long day on Christmas for our guys,” he said.

In Revere, an SUV ran off Revere Beach Parkway and into an apartment building. While officials are investigating the cause of the accident, some are blaming the snowfall and poor road conditions.

Peabody, Lynnfield, Saugus, Nahant, and Revere departments of public works were not available to comment on the conditions of the roads in their respective cities.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy’s chief of staff, said the DPW has work crews out around the clock to rectify icy street complaints.

“The claim that the city of Lynn is not treating any side streets is simply not true,” he said.

The Item is asking you to send us pictures of road conditions from Monday’s storm and Tuesday’s aftermath to, along with your thoughts about the snow removal being done in your city.


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