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Bostonians Bet On When 12-Foot Ice Mound Will Finally Melt


If only there had been a way to take all that snow that fell on Boston this past winter and send it out West. Well, hey, maybe there still is - because there is still snow in Boston, and ice too. Yes, we know, the highs are in the 80s now in Boston, but yet, the city is home to a mound of snow and ice that's been able to survive because it's mixed up with a bunch trash. It's 12 feet high, and people are now taking bets on when it will finally melt. Michael Dennehy is the commissioner of public works in Boston and he's with us from his office.

Welcome to the show.

MICHAEL DENNEHY: Good afternoon, thank you for having me.

MCEVERS: Yeah. So OK, 12 feet, we hear is actually far from where this thing started. I understand it was once 75 feet tall? How did that happen?

DENNEHY: So it was born on the night of January 28. We were two days into the first of the four epic snowstorms in January and February that hit Boston, and we have a four-acre parcel of land. We were just trying to keep the streets of Boston open and not put any snow into the harbor. So it began.

MCEVERS: And you have actually picked your way around this snow mound. I mean, what's in there? What've you seen?

DENNEHY: Oh, so there's a lot of assets the Boston Water and Sewer Commission will be looking for us to return to them. There were some storm drain covers, catch basin covers, more than a handful of fire hydrants and other assets that other city departments are probably looking for.

MCEVERS: (Laughter) what? We'd also read that it was, you know, a lot of garbage. Is that true too?

DENNEHY: Yes. So if you can imagine downtown Boston and the surrounding neighborhoods of Boston, during these four snowstorms, people were putting trash out as if it were going to be collected in a timely fashion. And it was collected, but unfortunately, it was collected by a front-end loader that was removing snow, so...

MCEVERS: And so why is it taking it so long to melt, do you think?

DENNEHY: So I think it's a combination of things. We haven't gotten the rain - the spring rain we thought we were going to get. And if you look at the pile, it's completely encapsulated in dirt and debris. I don't think the sun has a chance to get at it. It appears as if it's melting from the bottom up at times.

MCEVERS: All right. And there's a contest going on, right, on Twitter? Can you tell us about that and tell us about the hashtag?

DENNEHY: Yeah, so Mayor Walsh has issued a snowmelt challenge, hashtag #bosmeltnow. And he's asking people to venture a guess as to when this pile - five-and-a-half-month old pile now - will finally see its final day.

MCEVERS: All right. So what's your bet? When do you think this thing is finally going to melt?

DENNEHY: So in the office pool, my bet expired over a month ago. I had picked May 30. If I was to venture a guess again, I would say that this pile will see August.

MCEVERS: Michael Dennehy is the commissioner of public works in Boston.

Thanks so much for being with us.

DENNEHY: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.