SCHENECTADY — If you park illegally in the city during a winter storm, you will get towed.
That’s the message City Hall wants to send to vehicle owners.
Despite city plow crews working since snow began falling on Sunday, some streets remain partially cleared and can’t accommodate fire trucks, said Mayor Gary McCarthy.
“In those areas, we will start towing vehicles to get them plowed and open,” McCarthy said Monday afternoon.
City police have traditionally used bullhorns to get people to move their Illegally-parked vehicles, and knock on doors whenever possible.
Officials couldn’t immediately identify how many vehicles had been towed by Monday evening.
But parking violators do cause problems when streets need to be plowed, not only by preventing plowing, but also affecting trash collection.
An illegally-parked van on Eleanor Street on Monday resulted in an hour-long delay for a garbage truck, which didn’t move for fear of striking the vehicle, the owner of which could not be located.
Anyone whose trash was not picked up on Monday can call the city. “We’ll assign a courtesy truck to it,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy urged residents to utilize off-street parking if available, or look for other alternatives.
That applies everywhere in the city. But the city’s “Priority Street Plowing” program also implements parking restrictions on 15 designated priority streets once three inches have accumulated, including State Street, Union Street, Erie Boulevard and Van Vranken Avenue.
Vehicles may return only after the “entire length of the street has been cleared of snow back to the curb.”
Lawmakers earlier this year questioned if all of the streets are signed properly, and informally discussed expanding which streets are included in the program, but didn’t take any formal action.
Nearly 18 inches of snow fell in Schenectady by Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Albany, with between 2 and 4 more expected before the storm dissipates overnight into Tuesday.
Conditions in Schenectady resulted in nearly white-out conditions at times, with many streets in the city’s Bellevue, Stockade and Goose Hill neighborhoods resembling snowmobile trails with nearly a foot of tightly-packed snow, making them difficult to navigate.
Numerous disabled vehicles were seen throughout Bellevue on Monday morning, including Hendrix Street and Third Avenue, as well as the Stockade, where the intersection of Union Street and Washington Avenue proved particularly perilous.
McCarthy acknowledged some secondary streets remain “less than optimal.”
“We will go back through all the streets and replow,” he said.
Residents can track snow plow progress in real time online via a map showing which streets have been plowed in the past four hours.
McCarthy noted the actual number of city-coordinated plows is higher because private plows are not included.
“There are more plows out there that are not shown on the system,” he said.
The city plans to work with software developer TransFinder this winter to upgrade the software to display where plows will be in the next hour or 90 minutes.
Following the season’s first snowstorm, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for seven counties on Monday, including Schenectady, Saratoga, Albany and Rensselaer.
The city also issued an order of emergency, which will remain in effect until 5 a.m. on Tuesday.
“It allows for the sharing of services,” McCarthy said. “We’re looking to work with the state to see what resources we have for storm cleanup.”
The governor’s order activated 300 members of the National Guard to assist with snow removal and clean-up operations in those seven counties.
Snow removal will begin tomorrow in several city neighborhoods, including the Stockade and Mont Pleasant.