Schenectady continues to dig out from snow storm

PETER R. BARBER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERNorth Street in the Stockade in Schenectady was still unplowed Friday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

PETER R. BARBER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

North Street in the Stockade in Schenectady was still unplowed Friday.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — The city is continuing to mop up after getting walloped by a severe snowstorm.

“We’re catching up,” said city Mayor Gary McCarthy on Friday afternoon. “Most of the streets are plowed at this point and we’re now getting into snow removal.”

Efforts are underway with a fleet of 24 dump trucks from the state Department of Transportation, as well as five loaders and seven city plows, as well as assistance from private subcontractors.

Yet two days after the snow storm dumped as much as 31 inches in the city, criticism continued to mount from a peeved public over the city’s response that left some streets untouched for virtually all of Thursday.

Social media crackled on Friday with feedback.

“I’ve been getting phone calls and emails since 7 o’ clock this morning,” said Pat Smith, president of the Mont Pleasant Neighborhood Association.

Smith praised city employees working to clear streets, and acknowledged the storm was a “monster.”

But the city should weigh possible reforms that would make response more nimble and equitable throughout the city, including reallocating trucks by zone or neighborhood, said Smith, who recalled watching a plow repeatedly making multiple rounds while reports trickled in of other streets that hadn’t yet been cleared.

McCarthy is aware of the criticisms.

The storm, however, was simply larger than anticipated, he said.

“We started to plan for a much smaller snowstorm,” McCarthy said. “The forecast changed and we got almost a foot more than we got last year and it challenged our ability to stay ahead of it.”

The state sent a seven-ton plow truck and operator from the Thruway Authority and two dump trucks and operators from the Department of environmental Conservation to assist the city in with cleanup.

Following last year’s Dec. 1 storm which generated similar criticisms, the City Council floated the concept of alternate side parking — which would require motorists to move cars to one side of the street during heavy snowfall to allow for plowing — but never took formal action.

McCarthy said the approach wouldn’t have worked for Thursday’s storm because snow removal is the dominant issue.

“There’s no place to put it so you have to do snow removal, which is what we’re doing,” McCarthy said.

Numerous City Council members did not return calls on Friday, including City Council President John Mootooveren and Council members Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas and Marion Porterfield.

City Councilman John Polimeni on Thursday said the city may want to consider purchasing new equipment to aid with storm response efforts.

Officials continued to urge residents to remove vehicles from city streets, flagging the Eastern Avenue neighborhoods and warning that cars may be ticketed or towed if they were not removed by 6 a.m. Saturday.

The Schenectady Municipal Parking Garage on Hamilton Street will offer free parking through Sunday and free parking will also be available at the Hon. Karen B. Johnson Schenectady County Public Library.

Residents have overall been cooperative about moving their cars, said city police, who estimated fewer than 10 vehicles had been towed as of late Friday.

The city Fire Department boosted manpower by two engine companies and a rescue gig.

While conditions have proved challenging for some calls, crews have been able to reach everyone — even despite rigs getting stuck on occasion.

“There was nothing adverse from those calls,” said Assistant Chief Don Mareno. “All the calls we’ve received, we’ve handled them.”

Shoveling out fire hydrants is a priority, and Mareno estimated firefighters cleared several hundred units on Friday.

But that’s still fall short of the several thousand in the city, Mareno said, who urged people to pitch in — when possible.

Waste Collection for District 4 and the village of Scotia will occur on Saturday.

3 Comments

SHARON FLOOD

I do not believe they are catching up and I do not understand why they do not prepare for bigger storms than are forecast. Usually the forecasts are incorrect. I am in Central State, still waiting.

ROBERT STERN

I just want to thank everyone in city government for doing a great job, that was the best snow removal in Stockade, in my 30+ years living here, after one of the worst storms in 30 years.   I especially want to point out the excellent work of the guy working the front loader, he was thorough and meticulous,  curb to curb, avoided leaving piles, and was fast!

Terry McCabe

You guys are very fortunate. I remember an ice storm that left the city paralyzed for five days. No power in the dead of winter. But I was a kid and enjoyed those snow days! Love you Schenectady! I wish I was back despite those hard winters. 🙂

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