Staten Island Residents Complain About City’s Response As Snow Falls Again
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — As another snowstorm struck New York City Monday, residents of Staten Island complained about dangerous and unplowed streets – following similar complaints on the Upper East Side after a Jan. 21 snowstorm.
While busy Bard Avenue was plowed after CBS 2 confronted officials about it, some side streets remained unplowed late into the night.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for New York City, Long Island and much of northern New Jersey that expired at 7 p.m. The snow continued in the city until finally stopping after nightfall.
The snowfall topped out at 8 inches in Central Park — a record for the day, CBS 2 Weather reported.
A total of 8 inches of snow were also seen on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, and in Marine Park, Brooklyn. Centerport, Long Island saw a total of 9.9 inches, 1010 WINS reported.
And a winter storm watch already has been issued preemptively for the area for late Tuesday night through Wednesday morning. A total of 10 inches of snow and up to 0.1 inches of ice could be seen in some areas for the Wednesday morning commute.
“Things are going to be messy today,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Monday afternoon. “Snow is coming down faster than we can plow it, we have a very aggressive plowing operation going on, but the snow is coming down very rapidly.”
The city has been using 450 salt spreaders along with the 1,500 plows. Three storms are expected this week, but this one is expected to be the biggest.
“We have on hand 175,000 tons of rock salt to deal with this storm and the upcoming storms as well and we are on 12-hour split shifts — the 7 a.m. shift including 2,000 sanitation workers all focused on the storm,” de Blasio said.
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Mayor de Blasio’s baptism by snow continued as the day went on, this time with angry residents of the West Brighton section of Staten Island asking why their plows have been nowhere to be found.
In particular, Bard Avenue was unplowed as of the early afternoon – despite being designated by the mayor and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said is a primary street for plowing purposes.
“This is a main street to go to the hospital, and it’s never been cleared,” one woman said. “This is a mess.”
“They haven’t passed yet, and there’s a bunch of cars stuck up on the hill up there,” another said, adding that she would give Mayor de Blasio a D for his plowing efforts.
Another woman told Kramer that she would give de Blasio a grade of “zero.”
The snowpack on Bard Avenue — the access road for Richmond University Medical Center — made for a state of chaos. An Access-a-Ride bus got stuck and had to be extracted – only with the utmost difficulty.
Cars could not make it up the dangerously slippery hill on the road. Drivers making their way up the hill ended up slip-sliding around.
Staten Island Borough President James Oddo tweeted Monday afternoon: “I was on Bard Avenue an hour ago and it wasn’t pretty. Meals on wheels trucks seemed stuck.”
Residents told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin they were tired of cars covered in white, and weary with tires turning – unable to get traction.
“They need to do something better with the streets, because the streets ain’t good,” said Dominisha Dale of West Brighton.
And to see Bard Avenue neglected, and dotted with spinning and disabled vehicles, came as a shock.
“If it’s more than 4, 5 inches, you’re pretty much not getting out,” said Jason Lemole of West Brighton. “You might as well leave your car there.”
It was a lesson learned by the driver of a National Grid power truck that got stuck at the bottom of steep Irma Place just off Bard Avenue. Stephen Ruggirello of J&J Towing had to come to the rescue.
“Do not drive down the hill,” Ruggirello said. “Otherwise we’ll be coming to rescue you.”
As 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported, some Staten Island residents said the plows came out on Monday. But they said the plows ended up plowing their cars in.
“How are you going to come out from here?” one woman said as she shoveled in Sunnyside, Staten Island.
Kramer asked Mayor de Blasio about the conditions on Staten Island, and on Bard Avenue in particular.
“I saw a number of real-time views of Staten Island, and I thought, in general, there was some good work being done,” the mayor said. “But let’s clarify – that’s on the primary roads. I want to make this point. I am learning about snow removal more than I ever expected to. The first focus is on primary roads, and it has to be on primary roads.”
But Doherty said he believes unplowed Bard Avenue is, in fact, a primary road.
“I would have to look, but I believe it is,” he said.
And Kramer reported that as soon as she asked the question, Doherty was on the phone ordering snow-fighting trucks to Bard Avenue.
But side streets such as Karen Court did not see a scrape of plow blades.
“There must a reason why they didn’t plow so good over here, because usually, they’re great,” said Joe of West Brighton.
In the wake of last month’s storm, which dumped as much as 11 inches on some parts of the city, de Blasio was hit with complaints when the Upper East Side was complaining of neglect. Some roads remained a mess 24 hours after the snowstorm – leaving traffic snarled and pavement treacherously slippery.
“I was out here all day and you barely saw them on the streets,” resident Jonathan Montalvo said. “We saw a lot of cars getting stuck, especially buses.”
The controversy erupted into allegations of political favoritism by some New Yorkers, since major streets in Brooklyn were plowed right away. An image of two maps that made the rounds on social media last week – with one showing Upper East Side blocks where the plows were no-shows, and the other showing that the blocks were “red” districts that voted for de Blasio’s Republican opponent for mayor. The mayor has insisted there is no connection.
On Monday, it was clear lessons were learned in the last storm, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported. By mid-morning, the city’s plow tracker showed most Upper East Side streets had been plowed at least once already.
“We felt very good about the response to the first storm on Jan. 2, and then the response to the last storm obviously left something to be desired,” de Blasio said earlier in the day. “We did a review of our efforts and we’ve come up with some initial changes that we actually were able to implement right away to improve the snow clearing operations and the response to the storm this time.”
Drivers and pedestrians alike were taking notice.
“I saw three trucks on Park anyway so they were out here early, last time they didn’t come out till the afternoon,” driver Chris Jonas said.
“It’s better now, it’s a lot better than last storm,” another driver said.
By contrast to the complaints on Staten Island, as of close to the noon hour, residents said the response on the Upper East Side had improved. Residents said the main thoroughfaes still looked better than side streets, but residents said it’s an improvement over the last storm, Champion reported.
“I think it looks OK, if you can stay home you’re ahead of the game, if you have to work then that’s life,” resident Ed Lukashok said.
Some Upper East Side residents also told 1010 WINS’ Jones they noticed a very quick response.
“I noticed – I work up here too – and I noticed the plows were out very early too. Very interesting,” a woman said. “No repeat.”
And in the Bronx, one 12-year-old girl was busy carving a path in the sidewalk.
“I just want to get it done, because then it’s going to pile up and be more,” she said.
Residents on Pelham Parkway said the snow was hard to shovel, not to mention to drive in.
New Yorkers can use the plow tracker to see the status of snow removal in their neighborhoods at nyc.gov/severeweather.
New York City public schools remained open Monday, but all school field trips, after-school programs and PSAL activities are canceled due to the weather.
The Department of Sanitation issued a Snow Alert for Monday. Alternate side parking rules are suspended Monday and Tuesday. Parking meters remain in effect.
Snow is expected to taper off in the afternoon and temperatures will drop to the lower 30s with winds 10 to 15 mph.
“I’m ready for it to be warm again,” Upper East Side resident Natasha Miami said. “I’m done with being in the snow.”
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