You would think a snow farm from February wouldn’t have a snowman’s chance in hell of hanging around until July.
But if you venture down to Tide Street in the Seaport or get off I-90 at the Allston/Brighton exit, you’ll see the remainders of the most historic snowfall in Massachusetts history since 1827.
They are vile mounds of filth decorated with city grime and household garbage. The wrath of February’s blizzards often arrived on Sunday nights, and with Monday being trash and recycling pick up days for many neighborhoods, much of the garbage was buried in several feet of snow each week.
“Right now, we’ve disposed of about 130 tons of trash and debris,” Department of Public Works worker Danny Nee said. “Nothing about what is down [at the Seaport farm] is normal or has been done before. Usually we get some garbage when we plow, but the size and scope of this year was impossible to predict.”
There were at least eight massive piles of blizzard bounty, most of them around 100 feet high and as wide as every vacant lot that housed them.
As we approach mid-June, the remnants are holding strong, and you can expect them to stay put passed the Fourth of July.
“First off, if you were going to tell me we were going to get 10 feet of snow in 25 days, I’d have said you were nuts,” Nee said. “Then if you were going to tell me we’d be dealing with snow farms in mid-June into July? Give me a break. I’d say that’s impossible.”
The DPW was reluctant to dump the snow piles into the ocean, even though they got the green light to do so after the second storm. So instead, crews worked 24/7 to pile snow on top of piles in order to clear precious space for, you guessed it, more snow.
Each storm had DPW workers certain that they were maxed out and had no more space for more snow. After each storm, they surprised themselves by making more room.
“We were able to keep 98 percent of the streets open, even if it was a hassle for people to get around,” Nee said. “I don’t think I paid for a cup of coffee all winter. People were great.They understood that this was a huge undertaking and we were figuring it out as we went along.”
The foul pile in the Seaport has shrunk by about 25 percent in the last two weeks, but the warmer weather doesn’t facilitate the melting process the way one might guess.
“Hot days don’t do too much,” Nee said. “The sun is absorbed into the grime, but that only solidifies the core of the pile.” Nee said rain is the key to melting the pile down if the evenings keep cooling off. The piles make their own little ecosystems, where the runoff refreezes on the asphalt, which is the farm refrigerates.
The site of the snow farm in the Seaport sits in the lot that housed Cirque Du Sole last year. Now, it’s in need of significant repairs.
Joe Couto has been fixing fences and other municipal properties as a subcontractor for 17 years and said he has his work cut out for him for months to come.
“The whole site is pretty banged up from plows and heavy equipment,” Couto said. “I’ve been out here for two months and have a long way to go. So far, I’ve found one wallet and another license along with plenty of other melted gems.”