Health & Environment

Public Works Compromises On Plan for Year-Round Street Sweeping


Public Works Department Commissioner, Joanne Massaro, and Asst. Commissioner, Frank O’Brien.

“I have heard enough push back from residents to have developed a compromise,” said Public Works Commissioner Joanne Massaro as she introduced a major modification to the previously proposed year-round mechanical street cleaning pilot program in the North End.

Instead of continuing mechanical street sweeping throughout the entire winter, Public Works will stop the program during the months of January and February. This still adds two extra months, December and March, to the regular program that normally runs from April through November.

Massaro made the announcement at yesterday’s meeting of the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council, along with Asst. Commissioner Frank O’Brien.

This compromise is a change from the previous year-round plan to run continuously through the entire winter. Residents opposed the original plan due to the inconvenience of having to move their cars in the winter. Some council members and residents in the audience continued to voice opposition to the way the pilot program is being introduced in the North End.

Many residents that will have to move their cars are against winter street cleaning. While the pilot program is supported by the NEWRA Clean Streets Committee, recent community meetings and feedback brought out significant opposition.  (See “

Raucous Debate Ensues as City Introduces Year-Round Street Sweeping” and “Clean Streets Committee Talks Year-Round Street Sweeping.”)

As a dense, compact neighborhood with numerous trash complaints, officials selected the North End for the pilot program. If successful, the program could be rolled out to the entire city of Boston. The North End is small enough that DPW can try the program using its own staff without going to an outside contractor.

Massaro said after opposition mounted during the community meetings, they asked, “Is there a better way to build consensus? We are trying to do the right thing by the neighborhood.” DPW will start changing signs this week and letters will be sent to all residents with stickers and to owners using the water bill list.

Cars that are not moved will be ticketed or towed. However, there will be a two week grace period during the beginning of December so that everyone can adapt to the pilot program. Tickets are $40 and the towing charge is $150. In the Spring, the program will be evaluated and reviewed again.

NEWNC member Luciana Burdi asked, “Why not just do 2 hours since it doesn’t take 4 hours to sweep the streets?” Currently, residents have to move their cars during 4-hour periods, either 8am-12pm or 12pm-4pm. Assistant Commissioner Frank O’Brien said, “Sometimes things don’t go as planned. There might be a large number of cars to be towed. Owners can return their cars after the sweeper goes through.”

NEWNC member Jon Sproul asked if this was a revenue generator or expense for the city. DPW’s Frank O’Brien said it is roughly a wash, depending on how many people don’t move their cars.

A dispute erupted between Commissioner Massaro and NEWNC member Jorge Mendoza when the Commissioner said “this is not a democracy.” Mendoza responded, “You work for the City of Boston.” The Commissioner said, “I feel you are being antagonistic” but retracted her statement, clarifying, “I have a duty as a public servant. What I meant is that it is not a one-for-one vote. I am here because I am interested in what people think.”

Mendoza questioned the timing of introducing the program and why the North End is being singled out. “Is this pilot program for the City or just the North End?” Frank O’Brien responded that it is just for the North End.

The owner of Caffe Paradiso was the only participant who spoke in favor of the plan asking, “Why would it be an inconvenience to have the streets cleaned?”

As far as logistics, if there is snow in the forecast, DPW will make a decision whether to go forward by 9:00 pm the night before. Notifications will be sent via the City’s No-Tow email systemor residents can call the Mayor’s hotline at 617-635-4500.

NEWNC President Stephen Passacantilli thanked Commissioner Massaro and Asst. Commissioner O’Brien for attending the council meeting.

Related posts:
Raucous Debate Ensues as City Introduces Year-Round Street Sweeping
Clean Streets Committee Talks Year-Round Street Sweeping

3 Replies to “Public Works Compromises On Plan for Year-Round Street Sweeping

  1. "The owner of Caffe Paradiso was the only participant who spoke in favor of the plan asking, 'Why would it be an inconvenience to have the streets cleaned?'”

    Exactly. Apparently some residents actually prefer rats and garbage in their neighborhood instead of having to make an effort once in a while to help clean up their neighborhood.

  2. @Heather. You obviously 1. Do not have a car or 2. Have a garage space or 3. Have not lived here during the winter. I got rid of my car years ago but I do remember what a pain in the butt it was to move my car during the winter and then have to look for a space, especially after a snow storm.
    I do not think that people in the North End prefer garbage and rats. That is a ridiculous statement. I do think that they do not want to deal with moving cars in the winter when spaces are lost to snow, people shovel out spaces and "reserve" them until the city catches up with them after 48hrs, and people just don't move their cars as often.

    Boston should consider instituting alternate side of the street parking (even on streets like Prince where there is parking on one side of the street only so they can clean alternate sides of the street. It has worked for years in all boroughs of New York City and even in the capital city of Albany, NY. The city might even be able to plow out more spaces in the Winter and take the snow to Boston Common to build a giant sledding hill.

  3. Life is all about compromise. The right thing to do is to try it and see what happens. Parking issues are just another thing to deal with when living in the city. People need to get over it Way too many positives about living in this neighborhood to dismiss this attempt to clean the streets without giving it a try.

    I have a car and parking in the Winter stinks in the city…but that's what I signed up for when I agreed to live here and have a car.

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