By Alicia Hunt, Director of Energy & Environment and Syrah McGivern, Mass in Motion Coordinator
Snow is coming soon and the City wants to make sure conditions are as safe as possible for people traveling on foot.
The City of Medford distributes a brochure that explains the best practices for shoveling/salting and the regulations about snow shoveling in Medford. This is a good resource to share with neighbors who you believe may not be aware that they are supposed to shovel – the point is to communicate to people that they are required to shovel their sidewalks within 6 hours after the snow falls and this is a fineable offense ($25 the first time, $50 per day thereafter). It can be downloaded from the city website in English, Haitian Creole or Portuguese here: www.medfordma.org/departments/building-department/medford-snow-removal-regulations/. For the brochure to look right it needs to be printed double-sided and then folded in half. For this reason, it may be easier to obtain hard copies rather than printing them on your own.
The brochures are available at the Mayor’s Office, the Board of Health, the Council on Aging, DPW office, and Medford Public Library. A simplified version will be sent home via all elementary schools and the postal workers also distribute them as needed to addresses that do not shovel.
Our Code Enforcement Officers are responsible for ticketing residences and businesses who fail to shovel. They will usually issue a warning and leave the snow shoveling brochure the first time a home/business does not shovel and then start ticketing at the second offence. If you want to report an unshoveled sidewalk, call 781-393-2507 or use the See Click Fix app on your smartphone. The storm desk number at DPW is 781-393-2445.
Walk Medford is a group that is working to make our community more walkable, including making conditions safer in the winter with regards to sidewalks and snow. They have worked with the City to ensure the brochure is accurate and have created post it notes with shoveling information that citizens can use to communicate shoveling rules and best practices with their neighbors. These are available at the Board of Health – contact Syrah at 781-393-2560.
For people who are unable to shovel, a list of shovelers for hire is available via the Senior Center. This is simply a list of people who are available for hire to shovel residences/businesses in Medford. Many are high schoolers who may wish to earn community service hours in lieu of payment. To obtain the list call 781-396-6010. If someone would like their name added to the list, they can contact Syrah at the Board of Health.
A few tips regarding shoveling:
- For treating your sidewalk, use ice melt with calcium chloride (CaCl2). It’s better for the environment and only a small amount is required to melt ice. Potassium chloride (KCl) is Okay but be aware it can damage concrete.
- Use biodegradable cat litter as another good option.
- Avoid rock salt (NaCl or sodium chloride) – it kills plants and trees.
- Avoid sand. It doesn’t help pedestrians; it makes hard ice more slippery. It also gets into storm drains and catch basins and is expensive to clean up in the spring.
Several of the larger roads in Medford are controlled by state agencies and you can find out who runs what from an interactive map on the Bicycle Commission’s website: www.medfordbikes.org/reporting-road-hazards.html. For concerns about the sidewalks on state roads, contact the organization that owns the road.
- MASS Department of Transportation storm desk: 617-973-8827
- MBTA storm desk for transit lots: 617-222-5278
- DCR storm desk for DCR owned roads and sidewalks: 508-820-1428
Regarding snow plowing, under a standard snow event, Medford follows the following procedure: The DPW Commissioner Brian Kerins works throughout whole event, he will check email and the storm desk during events and people can contact him with urgent issues at email@example.com.
- Spreaders go out first and they put out de-icing materials, first main streets then residential.
- Plows need 2″ or more of snow to be effective; once there is at least 2” of snow then 24 trucks start plowing streets in Medford.
- The Commissioner decides whether or not to bring in contractors. Usually they are for tighter streets and places big plows can’t clear properly.
- When streets are clear the plows move to schools, city hall, municipal parking lots and sidewalks – some pickup trucks, snow blowers, hand shovels; They have a list of priority order, includes sidewalks, handicapped ramps; Remember, these are same people who had been plowing at the beginning of the storm.
- When schools are open, trucks will be prioritized to the school during the storm.
- After the storm Medford can bring in other daytime resources to help with shoveling if necessary.
If after the storm you feel a road needs additional plowing, contact the DPW Commissioner to report the street.
The City of Medford hopes this helps improve walkability throughout the winter. We welcome your feedback, please contact us in the Mayor’s office at 781-393-2408.