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Snow!

Written by Wil Whalen, Spectrum Enterprises

As of March 7, Boston’s snowfall amount was 105.7, just shy of the record of 107.6 set in 1995-1996. Keep in mind that snowfall in March is not all that uncommon, so they are still poised to break that all-time record.  To say Bostonians are tired of the snow would be a monumental understatement, but most, if not all of them, would like to see this record broken.  In some small way, it’s almost the reward for their perseverance.

Boston is a congested city in many ways.  Apartments, condos, restaurants, bars, office buildings and colleges all occupy the same neighborhoods.  Couple this with the amount of personal vehicles that need to park and you’ve got a recipe for a winter disaster.  Some of the side streets are so narrow that you can barely maneuver them in the summer with cars parked on both sides.  In winter, you’re lucky if you can get down the street at all.

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A common practice in Boston and the outlying areas is to “mark your space.”  Since the city itself isn’t very good at removing the snow on the side streets, the residents are forced to dig out their cars.  Once they have spent hours digging out their car and creating a parking space, they then mark it with something such as a chair.  This tells everyone else that this space is now reserved for the unknown owner of the chair.  If you feel brave enough to remove this chair, be ready for something to happen to your car.  

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Recently, I heard of a plumber whose tires were slashed because he used a marked space for an hour.  One resident replaced the snow he removed onto the car who took his spot.

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That’s just the snow.  If the temperature warms up for even one day you then have to contend with falling ice.  And the aforementioned ice is no joke.  Have a look for yourself.  Ice falling from buildings has been known to destroy cars and even cause fatalities.

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So now you’re wondering why there is a story about snow on the Spectrum LIHTC blog. I’m sure the LIHTC communities in warmer climates are having a hard time wondering why this is such a big deal.  Well….Imagine all this snow and now imagine what it would be like if you were the property manager or even a maintenance staff member on an LIHTC scattered site.  Remember that budget you did last year?  Now you have to figure out how to manage all of the overtime hours your maintenance staff will incur due to the never ending bouts of snow.  Now imagine that you have just suffered through a debilitating blizzard and your maintenance staff has been working around the clock to keep your property clear.  It’s taking a few days because you have numerous walkways, stoops, parking lots, egresses, etc.  Then you remember that Spectrum is coming to conduct an annual inspection. You’d love to cancel it, but you remember that you’ve already notified your residents, Spectrum has driven down from Maine, you’ve pulled all the files and the keys and your staff is ready.  As big of a pain it is, you go through with the inspection.  You just hope that no one slips and falls or gets hit by falling ice.

You also have to contend with the damage that can be caused by this snow and ice.  The weight of the snow can cause your entire roof to collapse.  The ice dams that form on your roof can cause extensive leaking and even pull the gutters off your building from their sheer weight. The ice falling from your buildings can damage people, property and cars.  The snow and ice will wreak havoc on your parking lot and walkways with frost heaves and pot holes.

So how does an LIHTC property in Boston manage in conditions like this? They just do, because they’re Boston Strong.  It may be a congested city, but it’s also a resilient city.  The mayor can close down public transportation, call parking bans and declare a state of emergency, but Bostonians will carry on with life because it’s what they do.  So the next time you grow weary because you think it’s too hot to conduct an inspection, or too cold, or even too wet, just be thankful you’ll never have to conduct an inspection in 9 feet of snow.  Yes, you read that correctly, 9 feet of snow.  If anyone city was looking forward to spring this year, it’s Boston. Happy Spring Boston, it’s just around the corner.

 


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