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Foss: Schenectady has a snow problem

Foss: Schenectady has a snow problem

Foss: Schenectady has a snow problem
New York National Guard crews help with snow removal Wednesday in Schenectady.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ
Yes, it was a bad storm.
 
But only one municipality in the Capital Region was forced to cancel two full days of school because of it.
 
Only one municipality has been inundated with complaints about the slow pace of snow removal from residents.
 
And only one municipality seems utterly flummoxed by snowfall we all knew was coming, and had plenty of time to plan for.
 
I'm talking about Schenectady, of course.
 
 
If other cities, such as Albany, sounded as if they were preparing for battle in the hours leading up to the storm, Schenectady appeared to cry uncle in the face of the monster storm.
 
Plows struggled to keep up with the snowfall, raising questions about the city's readiness.
 
Well after the storm ended, many of the city's streets remained clogged with snow, more suitable for skiing or walking.
 
Unshoveled sidewalks forced pedestrians throughout the city into slick, snow-filled streets. Two lane roads shrank to one lane, forcing cars to back up, turn into driveways or pull over and risk getting stuck in the snow when other vehicles approached.
 
I turned down a side street on Tuesday afternoon and immediately regretted it. It was like navigating an obstacle course, and I wondered whether I would end up stranded in a snowbank. "At least I have AAA," I thought, as I inched my down the street.
 
Look, it takes time to dig out after a big storm.
 
We all know that.
 
But Schenectady's haphazard response to the storm was completely unacceptable - the result of poor planning and management.
 
It's not unreasonable to wonder why other local municipalities were so much better prepared for the snow, and so much more capable of clearing streets in a timely fashion.
 
What we don't want is for the city's awful response to the storm to set the tone for the entire winter.
 
Officials should consider what needs to be done to ensure that Schenectady is ready for the next storm.
 
The City Council should also take a closer look at the issue, and ask some hard questions of Mayor Gary McCarthy and General Services Commissioner Paul LaFond.
 
The mayor has said that some plow drivers declined to work overtime, something that doesn't appear to be a problem in other cities. So why is it a problem in Schenectady?
 
It's nice that Schenectady has an online snow plow tracker that allows residents to see plow locations in real time.
 
But that won't solve the city's long-standing problems with snow removal, or address its subpar deployment of resources during storms.
 
This is a leadership and personnel issue.
 
It's also a public safety issue.
 
Schenectady needs to come up with a better plan for dealing with snow.
 
Because it's going to be a long winter if it doesn't.
 
Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper's.        
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