MELROSE — The city was basically shut down again at the beginning of the week as yet another significant winter storm raged through the region, dumping 16 more inches of snow on Melrose.
Since January 24, according to city records, 71 inches have fallen here, making it about the snowiest 18-day period in record-keeping history.
By just about all accounts, the public works department did a commendable job clearing the streets. Schools were closed Monday and Tuesday, prompting Supt. Cyndy Taymore to let people know that the last day of the academic year is now June 22, barring any more forced closures.
Mayor Robert J. Dolan blogged, “We have broken the record for the most snow in 10, 30, and 40 days in just 17 days! I want to recognize the staff of DPW, from those running the plows to those answering the phones, as well as our public safety personnel and the ambulance drivers, who have done a tremendous job during this storm. I also want to thank the citizens of this city for their patience. I have heard many stories of assistance to neighbors young and old. Times like this define a community and define a neighborhood. Let’s continue our community spirit and neighborliness and be an example to other cities and towns all over the Commonwealth.”
The city cleared sidewalks with a new snow-blowing device, a process that is both slow and labor intensive. On February 10, the schools’ sixth snow day of 2014-15, crews were removing snow from school sites so buildings could be opened Wednesday (they were). The DPW and its contractors removed snow from corners on school routes.
Dolan also said Tuesday, “We have begun a very slow process of widening roads. Roads are identified to be widened first depending on traffic and access to schools, as directed by our DPW and public safety chiefs. We now have a truck-mounted snowblower specifically for widening roads. We are not blowing the snow onto people’s property. It is blown into a truck and then hauled, so again, this is very labor-intensive and slow, and only so many roads can be done each day. This process will take several weeks. Every street in this city will not be widened — that is simply impossible. Again, decisions on primary and secondary roads will be made by the Director of DPW (John Scenna) and our public safety chiefs.
Residents were encouraged not to drive unless absolutely necessary. The Milano Senior Center was closed all week.
“By the end of the week,” Dolan wrote, :forecasts show extreme cold with a predicted high on Saturday of 6 degrees. We remain very concerned about people who potentially do not have enough heating oil due to financial hardship. We are also concerned about individuals who need assistance getting medicine or food due to financial hardship. If you know anyone in these situations, pleasecontact the Mayor’s Office at 781-979-4440, and we will reach out to them. Having no heat during this time could be deadly.
“ I know it is hard to get around, but these are extraordinarily difficult times for our small businesses. The number of lost days of sales could cripple a small business. I am asking our entire community to band together to support our small businesses through this storm as well as afterwards to get them back on their feet. In many cases, their futures are in our hands. Steve Trulli of Whittemore Hardware has notified us that Whittemore has a new shipment of shovels, snowmelt, ice rakes and other necessities. They can fix snowblowers, and they have everything you need to get through this storm. Please shop local. It would be a real shame if we lost businesses as a result of this weather situation that none of us can control.”
The city was still offering public service hours to high school and middle school students who can clear hydrants or help a neighbor by shoveling, shopping, or picking up groceries. “Please document anything you have done to help a neighbor during this time and you will be given full credit! Send pictures and we will put them on Twitter,” Dolan blogged.
On Tuesday, Dolan concluded his blog with this: “We will continue to be working 24 hours a day, as we have previously, to manage this storm. Life is going to have to be adjusted in some ways until the spring. There will be inconveniences, but as a community we are strong, we have great people working on our behalf, and we are all going to have to be patient and show the community spirit that we have always shown as Melrosians.”
In a memo to school families and staff, Supt. Taymore wrote, “Increasingly, school districts have taken the initiative to start the school year before Labor Day, thereby building in additional flexibility to make up lost days before the end of June. Such planning is commendable.
“Making up missed days can be done in several ways. School districts may decide to cancel or shorten the April vacation period, convert scheduled professional development days into school days for students, hold school on Saturday, keep school open on Good Friday, or add days later in June beyond the originally scheduled last day of school.
“Since we opened in August, we have the flexibility to use the additional days in June. Additionally, because of school district funding is for a fiscal year (July 1 to June 30), June 30th must be the last possible day for the current school year. With the current last day at June 22nd, we have six more days in June available to us. However, if this weather pattern continues, we will need to think about which of the options allowed by the regulations would be feasible.
“School cancellations impact every aspect of the school schedule. In the next few days, the administration will meet to recalculate the calendar for such dates as the end of terms, report cards, exams, etc. Please know that if you have a senior, the date of graduation is not changed. The regulations allow the graduation date which is chosen based on the “regular scheduled school year” to remain as set. As for the other schedule adjustments, the principals will send you an update.
“Thank you for your patience during this truly horrible winter. Let’s hope we see an end to this weather pattern soon,” Taymore wrote.