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Somerville cancels school through Wednesday, snow emergency remains in effect

Posted by Jarret Bencks  February 11, 2013 02:51 PM

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Schools will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday in Somerville and the city's snow emergency will remain in effect indefinitely, Mayor Joseph Curtatone said Monday afternoon.

The snow emergency -- which calls for a ban on parking on the even-numbered side of the road -- was set to expire 6 p.m. Monday, but Curtatone chose to extend it after meeting with city department heads Monday morning. He urged residents to stay off city streets if they could.

"Be careful, exercise caution," he said. "If you do not have to be on the streets please do not do so."

Most streets were passable Monday afternoon in Somerville, but many were narrowed by snow banks, which obstructed visibility at intersections and blocked crosswalks, forcing many pedestrians into the street, Curtatone said.

"We are the most densely populated city in New England," he said. "A lot of our streets are not very wide, and public safety is the first and foremost priority in this community, especially when it comes to children."

Curtatone gave a stern warning to residents thinking about using a placeholder in a shoveled out parking spot. Space saving furniture, like lawn chairs and tables, can become a public safety hazard for public works crews as they continue to widen roadways, and for emergency responders, Curtatone said.

"Don't put the street furniture on the street, not only does it look bad, it's a public safety hazard," Curtatone said. "We will remove that furniture, it is against city ordinance and it will not be tolerated."

As Somerville continues to dig out, Curtatone said all parking restrictions and regulations will be enforced as the city continues to operate under a snow emergency.

In all, 5,500 hours had been logged in relation to storm clean up as of Monday afternoon, the city's 311 center had received over 3,000, and 2,000 tons of salt were used, Curtatone said. Estimates on the cost of the cleanup were not immediately available.

Somerville Fire Chief Kevin Kelleher said it was unknown how many of the city's 2,000 fire hydrants remained buried under snow, but asked residents help dig out any in their neighborhood. 

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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