Next winter, the size of Quincy’s salt collection will no longer depend on the weather.
Quincy city councilors approved an appropriation at their meeting Monday for a $163,892 salt shed to be purchased for the Quincy yard of the Department of Public Works.
As such, the city’s salt collection, used on roads throughout the winter to abate problems with snow and ice, will remain untouched by the elements, which used to diminish the supply during rainstorms.
The shed was a contentious issue for councilors in November 2011, when DPW Commissioner Daniel Raymondi initially suggested spending $250,000 from the city’s snow and ice account to purchase a shed.
Councilors were aghast that the city might approve such a purpose when the snow and ice account runs into deficit year after year. Although the city can roll snow and ice deficits into subsequent fiscal years' budgets, the expense is eventually passed on to the taxpayer.
The concern, councilors said at the time, was that the cost for the shed would be borne by the city's residents.
Yet after a largely snowless winter, councilors readily approved a smaller appropriation for a shed, which will increase the city’s salt storage capacity from 1,200-1,500 tons to 3,500 tons.
According to Raymondi, it’s a sound investment for the city.
“We’ve gone to an all-salt strategy so it’s critically important to have an adequate supply of salt, and it doesn’t make sense to have a valuable public access sitting out in the environment,” Raymondi said. “The existing salt shed was no longer safe to have that kind of activity. We’ll be able to store more salt inside the shed, so we can buy it cheaper with more volume. We won’t have to order it as often, and we’re not allowing weather conditions to dissipate a valuable asset.”
Raymondi said that the city would need to do some geotechnical analysis to make sure the area in the rear yard can handle the foundation for the shed. After that, the site will be prepared and a foundation will be poured.
The plan is to have the shed operating by the next snowstorm.
“It will be up by next winter, by the first snow. Unless we get a snowstorm in July,” Raymondi joked.
The snow and Ice account has $167,492 in it prior to the appropriation. Although the $163,000 shed will most of the funds out of the account, a little will be left over.
Councilors unanimously approved the appropriation.