By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — The city is still clearing snow from a blizzard of historic proportions that struck Feb. 8 and 9 and is now gearing up to combat another storm that has the potential to drop upwards of a foot of snow this weekend.
The city’s sidewalk snowplow and sidewalk snow-thrower have been clearing walking paths while heavier equipment such as front-end loaders are being used to lift and load mounds of snow that clog city streets and intersections into dump trucks that bring it all to the Highway yard on Primrose Street.
Haverhill District Court has been helping the cause by sending people who are performing supervised community service out to shovel snow from sidewalks, including those along Ginty Boulevard.
Following the recent blizzard that blanketed Haverhill with about 2 feet of snow, Mayor James Fiorentini extended the city’s snow emergency to give Public Works Department employees additional time to ensure snow emergency routes were safe and clear for pedestrians and motor vehicles.
While that snow emergency was in effect, parking was not allowed at any time on certain streets in and around the downtown. The mayor also arranged for parking in specified lots, including across from All Saints Parish and at the Tilton school, so that residents without off street parking didn’t park on the streets.
David Van Dam, the mayor’s chief of staff, said clearing snow from sidewalks continues to be a work in progress.
“Whether it’s a foot of snow, six inches of snow or no snow, it’s all about being prepared,” he said. “We’re ready for whatever is forecasted.”
One problem that resulted from the last storm involved vehicles parking on streets such as Webster Street, where a number of residents shoveled just enough to free their cars, leaving behind mounds of snow that jutted into the street and eventually froze. The city has been sending out heavy equipment to remove such obstructions.
“The goal is to clear the streets to make them safer for everybody,” Van Dam said.
He said that depending on the severity of the storm predicted this weekend, the mayor will make a decision as to whether he will declare another snow emergency.
In preparation for the predicted storm, the city is continuing to remove snow and ice leftover from the last storm, he said.
“When the plows are out this weekend they’ll have to go around these obstructions,” Van Dam said. “So the goal is to have most of those obstructions removed so we can plow more efficiently and effectively.”
He said the city is prepared to send out 150 DPW and private snow plows as well as four city sanding trucks.
“We also potentially could send out trucks to pre-treat the roads so they don’t ice over,” he said. “Not only do we want to make sure we have enough equipment, we want to make sure we have enough sand, rock salt and gasoline for whatever happens.”
Van Dam said that if a snow emergency is declared, the mayor will announce it through the media, on the city’s Website as well as by calling residents through the city’s Blackboard Connect phone messaging system.
“It gives us the ability to reach out to the homes of residents with an urgent message,” Van Dam said.