Five-Story Snow Piles Cover Peirce Island

Feb 24, 2015

The city of Portsmouth has been hauling snow from town and dumping it on Peirce Island, just across from the Naval Shipyard. But now, Public Works Director Peter Rice says the island is filling up. 

 Everything but the road is covered in mountains of snow on Peirce Island.    At the very end of the road, a snow pile towers two or three stories high.  If you peer over the hill to the park below – you see the pile doubles in size.

“This is unprecedented. We’ve never seen this before, like this. This has been amazing,” Lister revels.

Down the road a bit, a front-loader plows snow to the base of another heap.  There, an excavator perches above.  It scoops up snow and deposits it on top.

Public Works Director, Peter Rice, says on a clear day like today, workers have time to lift the snow to the top of the piles here.

“But doing a bigger load-out downtown when we have 40 trucks going all at once,” Rice says, “we don’t have time to get the snow all stacked up.”

If another big storm comes along, the city’s found two locations further out of town to dump the snow: the Urban Forestry Center, and a gravel pit near the Foundation for Seacoast Health.

Rice says his office has received hundreds of calls from residents every day since the storms began.  “People are very frustrated by the size of the roads.” But, he says, “it takes about a day to go a mile in a sidewalk tractor.” Now that the weather is clearer, he hopes can return to tidy up less-trodden neighborhoods.

Portsmouth’s snow removal expenses are already $110,000 over budget. 

Listen to Emily Corwin's Peirce Island Snow Poem: 

At the end of Pierce Island just next to downtown

A snow pile towers stacked, mound upon mound

The Mayor – Bob Lister – is dwarfed by its size

He says this heap here? It’s five stories high

This is unprecedented. We’ve never seen this before, like this. This has been amazing.

A front-loader plows toward another big clump

Where an excavator is perched, some 20 feet up

Hundreds call Public Works every day

They say “Peter Rice, send your crew right away.”

It takes about a day to go a mile in a sidewalk tractor. The challenge for us is each time we do that in the last 30 days, the sidewalks have been filled up again, so it feels like Sisyphus. Every time you roll that stone up the hill you need to do that again. 

The budget is spent, and the winter’s not through

The Mayor says this may happen next year, too

I’m sure if you talk to scientists tell ya this  is a side effect of whole global warming and climate change, and I think we need to be aware of that.

If winters like this come again and again

Mr. Rice says he’ll ask for more money to spend

But as for today – Peirce Island’s full up

Now it’s off toward Route 1– for a brand new snow dump.