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City continues cleanup efforts, amid some complaints

City continues cleanup efforts, amid some complaints

'It’s sad up here. We’re not plowed out at all'
City continues cleanup efforts, amid some complaints
Snow plows in Schenectady's Upper Union Street business district on March 15, 2017.
Photographer: Kristin Schultz

SCHENECTADY -- Mayor Gary McCarthy said roughly 100 city employees were working Wednesday afternoon to unclog city streets and sidewalks and that, aside from a change in garbage removal, city operations were running at full speed.

Most of the city’s main roads have been cleared down to the pavement, McCarthy said, but some secondary streets still needed work. He estimated those roads would be mostly taken care of by about 4 p.m.

“If people can move their cars off the street, it’s always more beneficial and easier for crews to get in,” McCarthy said. 

The city used Tuesday’s storm to test out GPS technology from local company Transfinder. The devices were attached to roughly 20 snowplows and allowed managers to monitor and track their progress.
Unofficial data showed that, for all of Tuesday, those vehicles traveled about 2,700 miles, or roughly the distance from New York City to Los Angeles, said Antonio Civitella, CEO of Transfinder. The city has 108 miles of road.
That data does not include privately contracted snowplows used by the city. The mileage still needs to be verified against odometer readings, Civitella said, but he noted one of the trucks traveled almost 200 miles, according to initial GPS reports.
The goal the technology, McCarthy said, is more efficient routes and better allocation of resources.


JoAnn Mingo, owner of Flowers by JoAnn on Upper Union street, was open for business Wednesday, after closing for Tuesday's snowstorm. But it wasn't business as usual.

There was nowhere for customers to park, as the city's snowplows had not gotten to the parking spaces yet.

“It’s sad up here,” she said. “We’re not plowed out at all. Customers can’t even get to us.”

Mingo’s landlord cleared the parking lot behind her shop, but Mingo had to shovel out the back door to get in.

“There’s no business happening this morning,” she said. 

After shoveling out the entryway to her business, Mingo was headed to Famiglia Salon to help shovel their parking area.

“They have clients booked, but the customers can’t park. It’s a mess right now.”

Sara D’Elia was holding down the fort at Famiglia and had contacted the city about the unplowed spots. She spoke with the city clerk who said crews “were struggling, too,” and referred her to the Office of General Services, where she left a voicemail.

“I’ve only been here a couple of years,” said D’Elia. “But I’ve never seen it this bad.”

D’Elia’s client found a spot across the street in the TrustCo Bank parking lot.

In Saratoga Springs, parking spots up and down Broadway had been cleared of snow and were filled with cars, according to Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus.

“I haven’t received a single complaint,” he said. “I think most of our downtown streets are in pretty good shape right now, for having two feet of snow.”

 McCarthy said clearing the streets was the priority, and that work was expected to open up street parking near businesses.

Certain lots downtown are owned by Metroplex, which has a contractor that handles plowing independently of the city, McCarthy said. City parking lots are typically handled along with the secondary roads, but in some cases, it can take longer to fully clear snow. In some lots, there’s nowhere to put the snow, and city crews have to bring in haulers to remove it completely, he said.

Snow removal, as opposed to plowing, is not generally part of the city’s initial response to a storm, McCarthy said.

 As with the messier roads, the city expects to clear parking lots by late Wednesday or Thursday, McCarthy said.

The forecast was calling for a couple more inches of snow this weekend, before temperatures climb back into the 40s. 

“We appreciate people working with our city crews -- and a little bit of patience as we go through our efforts,” McCarthy said.

Daily Gazette reporters Kristin Schultz and Ned Campbell contributed to this report.

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