Overall, the City of New Rochelle has done a pretty good job dealing with a large amount of snow and extreme weather conditions that made working during the storm extremely difficult. Talk of the Sound is giving the City an "A-". They would get an A but we always want to leave room for improvement.
One area that raised questions and suggests remove for improvement was in the declaration of a snow emergency and the decision not to enforce parking requirements on snow emergency streets. Talk of the Sound asked City Manager Chuck Strome about this earlier today.
For starters, Strome recognized that not everyone has been happy with the clean up effort.
"I know people are frustrated we didn't get to their streets", said Strome. "We had some equipment break down, and the guys have to go home and sleep at some point".
Compounding the difficulties has been the need to do garbage pick up -- already behind due the Christmas holiday garbage pick up schedule.
"We will be picking up garbage starting Tuesday", said Strome. Later the focus will go back to full-time snow removal. Strome said the City will work on snow removal in the downtown area tonight.
Asked about the snow emergency declaration and decision not to enforce the declaration, Strome noted that the City always has post-storm meetings to review performance.
"This was a bigger storm than we usually had and we'll take a look at areas that need to have improvement," he said. "We'll find out what went well and what didn't."
In announcing the declaration of a snow emergency by the City of New Rochelle, a broadcast from the police dispatcher was monitored using a police scanner. The message was to the effect of "the City has declared a snow emergency, no enforcement per the desk".
The following morning hundreds of cars were observed parked along snow emergency routes buried in snow including major routes along North Avenue, Webster Avenue, Echo/Shore Road and areas around Sound Shore Medical Center. Tow trucks were not removing vehicles and none of the vehicles parked on these routes appear to have been ticketed.
Vehicles parked on snow emergency streets created a double-problem for DPW crews. Plows had less room to work with as they attempted to clear the street and, as residents came out to clear snow off their cars they dumped snow back into the street.
Talk of the Sound asked Strome why the snow emergency was declared as late as it was -- the snow storm was already intense at the time meaning that it would have been difficult and dangerous for residents to move their vehicles. Also, why a snow emergency is declared when it is not going to be enforced. And, finally, if a blizzard with 55 mph winds, 15-20 inches of snow and a snowfall rate of 1-3 inches per hour for several hours, is not going to cause the City to enforce the snow emergency then what sort of storm would entail both declaring and enforcing a snow emergency.
Under New York State Executive Law, Article 2-B, the Chief Executive Officer is given the authority to declare a local state of emergency when conditions threaten or imperil the public safety of citizens. Under this law, the decision to declare a snow emergency is made by the City Manager. Strome says he consults with DPW and NRPD officials to determine if the nature of the story requires an Emergency Declaration.
For this storm, Strome said the decision to declare a snow emergency was made sometime between 5:00 PM and 6:00 on Sunday December 26th. The Reverse 9-1-1 message went out sometime between 8 PM and 9 PM.
Strome acknowledged that, in hindsight, a decision could have been taken sooner.
"Perhaps we should have declared earlier but due to the fact that the event occurred during a holiday weekend, things moved a bit slower than usual," said Strome.
Asked whether some sort of "heads up" or preliminary warning could be issued indicating the likelihood that a snow emergency will be declared if certain conditions occur, explaining those conditions and encouraging people to stand by for further information", Strome said he expected this would be on the agenda for the City's post-storm meeting.
On they key issue of why a decision made not to enforce the snow emergency requirements Strome said:
My goal in declaring the emergency is to try to obtain as much voluntary compliance as possible to facilitate the clean up efforts. New Rochelle is a unique city and many snow emergency streets have parking allowed on them - there are few options available for those people to park other than the street so enforcement would occur in only extremely serious circumstances. Additionally, the only enforcement that is effective is the towing of cars. Putting a ticket on the windshield does not accomplish the goal of clearing the street to facilitate cleaning. It is a major operation to initiate telling and we would do so only in very serious conditions. These decisions are made after consultation with her emergency departments but ultimately the decision is mine.
In short, residents are encouraged to keep their cars off the streets during winter storms but especially on Snow Emergency streets and failure to do will only mean slower clean up. Something many residents might want to keep in mind before they go pointing fingers. Everyone can do their part and finding a way to keep a car off the street before, during and after a storm is an important one.
Snow Emergency Streets are listed in § 312-95 of the Municipal Code.
In accordance with the provisions of § 312-61A and B it shall be unlawful to stand or park a motor vehicle or operate a motor vehicle not equipped with snow tires or tire chains on the following described streets or parts thereof:
Name of Street/Limits
Albert Leonard Road/Entire length
Baraud Road/Entire length
Barnard Road/Entire length
Beechmont Drive/Entire length
Broadfield Road/Entire length
Centre Avenue/Entire length
Cross Street/Entire length
Division Street/Entire length
Eastchester Road/Entire length
Echo Avenue/Entire length
Elm Street/Entire length
Fenimore Road/Entire length
Fifth Avenue/Entire length
Forest Avenue/From Pine Brook Boulevard to east City line
Fourth Street/Entire length
Garden Street/Entire length
Grand Boulevard/Entire length
Hamilton Avenue/Entire length
Harrison Street/Entire length
Huguenot Street/Entire length
Kings Highway/Entire length
Lincoln Avenue/Entire length
Lockwood Avenue/Entire length
Main Street/Entire length
Maple Avenue/Entire length
Mayflower Avenue/Entire length
Memorial Highway/Entire length
Mill Road/Entire length
Mountain Avenue/Entire length
North Avenue/Entire length
Palmer Avenue/Entire length
Pelham Road/From Echo Avenue to North Avenue
Pelhamdale Avenue/Entire length
Pine Brook Boulevard/Entire length
Pine Brook Road/Entire length
Potter Avenue/Entire length
Puritan Drive/From Baraud Road to Waverly Road
River Street/Entire length
Stephenson Boulevard/Entire length
Stratton Road/Entire length
Sussex Road/Entire length
The Boulevard/From Schuyler Street to Rockland Place
Trenor Drive/Entire length
Union Avenue/Entire length
Van Etten Boulevard/Entire length
Van Guilder Avenue/Entire length
Van Meter Fens/Entire length
Victory Boulevard/Entire length
Warren Street/Entire length
Waverly Road/Entire length
Webster Avenue/Entire length
Weyman Avenue/Entire length