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Springfield's snow removal costs reach $1.4 million

Date: 4/18/2011

April 18, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — This winter was a rough one on heating budgets, road clearing cost and the effort to keep accumulated snow from damaging buildings.

City Council Tim Rooke recently conducted a meeting that focused in part on the costs of clearing snow from municipal buildings, especially schools. The final price tag was more than $1.4 million.

Executive Director of Parks and Buildings & Recreation Patrick Sullivan explained that the clearing of drifts on schools' roofs, which ranged from 12 to 30 inches, was complicated by the style of the roof and age of the building. There was $120,000 in damages to the roofs because of the snow.

Buildings at Franconia Golf Course, the Cyr Arena, Ellis Elementary School and Liberty Elementary School all had at least 30 inches on snow on the roof. Liberty School, for instance, sustained some structural damage, as it had over 30 inches of snow at one time, Sullivan noted. The city has made a request to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for funding for the repairs.

Sullivan added that roof damage was "unavoidable" with snow amounts such as these.

The snow crushed a $150,000 gazebo at Forest Park, he said.

The city used workers provided by Northeast Grounds in order to augment city employees. The cost was $87,300 and Sullivan said an audit is going on now to confirm that cost. Although some help was provided by the Hampden County Sheriff's Department, Sullivan explained that outside professional help was required.

"We wanted someone who had the experience and the insurance," he added.

Part of the experience was the use of plastic snow shovels that couldn't damage the roofs when being cleared, Sullivan said. Some owners of buildings used snowblowers, which he said, could easily damage a roof.

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