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In Dudley Square, Business -- And Snow Removal -- Have 'Been Real Slow'

People walk carefully Wednesday along Boston's Washington Street, where the sidewalks were not shoveled very well. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)closemore
People walk carefully Wednesday along Boston's Washington Street, where the sidewalks were not shoveled very well. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This week, WBUR reporter Zeninjor Enwemeka took a look at how Bostonians across the city are coping with the historic winter weather.

Weeks of winter weather has made navigating the streets in Roxbury's Dudley Square more like solving a puzzle, and the difficulty has siphoned off customers from local businesses.

"Anybody that tells you their business ain't been affected by weather, they ain't keepin it real," said the owner of O'Aces Barbershop on Dudley Street, who's known as "Big Papa." He said the recent snowstorms and city parking bans have kept customers away from the shop he runs with his father, who has had it for 25 years.

In Dudley Square, several businesses have had to close up shop some days because of the snow.

"Anybody that tells you their business ain’t been affected by weather, they ain’t keepin it real."

'Big Papa' of O'Aces Barbershop

"Who wants to get their hair done with this type of weather?" said hair stylist Cynthia Ivery. "They wear a hat and say, 'I'll put it off for the next time and go get some food' — anything else but get their hair done."

Ivery works at Upscale Unisex Hair Salon on Roxbury Street. She said the winter is usually the slowest time of the year, but the continuous snowfall has made things even worse this year.

"If we're not coming in late, we're closing one or two days out of the week because of the weather," Ivery said. "If you don't do hair, you don't get money. So, if you can't be there or even if you're there and the people can't get there, it's really hard."

Over on Washington Street, business has also been slow for Josh Sims, the manager of Expressions, a footwear and apparel store. He said the store charts how much money they've brought in by certain times of the day.

"Normally, on a good day by 12 o'clock we would at least have about $3,000 in, now we probably have like $600 in," Sims said around 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday. He's also had to close down three times over the last few weeks. "It's been real slow."

For some businesses, the MBTA's troubles have meant they aren't getting their usual customers.

"We're right at the station," said Zoleka Taylor, who works at Nubian Notions, a convenience store and gift shop on Dudley Street. "Without the T functioning we're losing a lot of business because we're a foot traffic store."

A path winds through a snow bank in front of the Silver Slipper Restaurant at the intersection of Washington Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. Many people in Dudley Square complained Wednesday that the roads and sidewalks haven't been cleared properly. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A path winds through a snow bank in front of the Silver Slipper Restaurant at the intersection of Washington Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. Many people in Dudley Square complained Wednesday that the roads and sidewalks haven't been cleared properly. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Record snow and transit failures have caused widespread frustration. In Dudley Square, many people complained on Wednesday that the roads and sidewalks have not been properly cleared.

Massive snowbanks, snowy sidewalks and slushy puddles along Warren, Washington and Dudley streets made for an almost dizzying walk through Dudley Square Wednesday. Add to that a steady flow of traffic from Malcolm X Boulevard and things were even more tricky.

"The snowbanks shouldn't be this high, people should be able to park and people shouldn't be squeezing through little pathways because of the snow," said 20-year-old Donesha Fountain, who was waiting to catch a bus at Dudley Station.

Navigating through one such snowy path at the intersection of Washington Street and Malcolm X was 82-year-old Pauline Sheridan, of Roxbury.

"I was tired of being in the house," Sheridan said, after she made her way through a narrow path. "You have to get out to air ... to breathe. And I had some things to do that had to be done before the next storm, if we have it, so I thought, what day do I do it?"

She also said she wanted to get outside for her health and "exercise because that's what keeps me looking like I'm not 82."

On Wednesday, Pauline Sheridan, 82, navigates a small winding path through a large snow bank in front of the Silver Slipper Restaurant at the intersection of Washington Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
On Wednesday, Pauline Sheridan, 82, navigates a small winding path through a large snow bank in front of the Silver Slipper Restaurant at the intersection of Washington Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Many people in Dudley Square said more needs to be done to remove the snow.

"I'm not faulting [the city] for what happened with Mother Nature with all the snow, but as far as organizing and getting the streets and the sidewalks cleaned up, it could have been better organized," said Ivery, the hair stylist.

Daniel Warren, a general contractor and handyman who lives in Dudley, has a few qualms with the city over snow removal, especially when it comes to code enforcement.

"A lot people don't have a 4-foot pathway for coming and going," he said, referring to the city ordinance requiring a minimum path of 42 inches be cleared from sidewalks after a snowstorm. "Nobody has the snow far away from the building. People got to walk under the deadly icicles, they got no escape."

Warren has lived in Boston for 54 years and feels the city has been "winging it" with each snowstorm and needs a better plan to remove snow, especially from busy streets like Malcolm X Blvd.

"If you open up the roads wide enough the first time, you won't keep having those problems," he said.

Daniel Warren, a general contractor and handyman who lives in Dudley Square, chops ice from the sidewalk in front of businesses Wednesday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Daniel Warren, a general contractor and handyman who lives in Dudley Square, chops ice from the sidewalk in front of businesses Wednesday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Big Papa, the barbershop owner, expressed frustration, saying that less than two miles away in Brookline, the streets were more clear.

"So, how is it that they're plowed out and you can see their meters, you can see their sidewalks and Boston is a bigger city [with] more money and the snow ain't even gone?" he said.

For some, the faster the snow is gone, the faster they believe sanity will be restored.

"A lot of people are doing irrational things," Durrell Queen, 28, of Roxbury said. "I think a lot of people are getting a bit aggressive with their [parking] spots."

He recently had a friend visiting who parked in a spot further from his house because the spot in front of his home, that he spent two and a half hours shoveling, had been taken. The next morning, his friend's tires had been slashed, Queen said.

Taylor, of Nubian Notions, said she has experienced her own flashes of anger lately.

"I was going down the street the other day and it was a one-way street and a truck comes down the opposite way and I just got angry ... and I found myself in the car yelling," Taylor said.

Her remedy for dealing with the weather woes is to "just stay home and eat and get fat," she said.

Others are powering through their weather woes.

"We just gotta suck it up, go to work, go home, stay warm, bundle up and push forward," Fountain, who was waiting for a bus, said.

And even in the midst of this snowy abyss, some are latching on to early signs of spring.

"At 5 o'clock it's still light outside, so I know spring is on its way, and that's just a beautiful thought," Ivery, the hair stylist, said.

WBUR's Jesse Costa contributed to this report.

Related:

Zeninjor Enwemeka Digital Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a digital reporter at WBUR, covering all things relevant to people in Greater Boston.

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