By Long Islander News
Town of Huntington Highway Superintendent Peter Gunther called for change Monday after he said his workers had difficulty clearing snow from the roads over the weekend due to residents and private contractors pushing the white stuff back onto the streets.
“It’s a hazard to people driving and it’s a hazard to us,” Gunther said. “It’s against the state law to put anything hazardous, or any debris, in the road. Snow is debris.”
Gunther said that he plans to lobby the Huntington Town Board to raise awareness of the state Vehicle and Traffic Law, which can be enforced by police officers.
“It’s a battle for me to keep up on those streets after people do” that, Gunther said. He said there were issues where contractors clearing large private parking lots by pushing d the snow into the street.
Gunther said it was then up to town workers to re-plow the roads, creating a tug of war.
Juan Tineo, a customer service representative at Community Market in Huntington Station, said he witnessed this firsthand.
“We really had nowhere to put the snow,” Tineo said, noting that Community Market hired a contractor to clear snow from its roughly 15,000-square-foot parking lot.
Supervisor Frank Petrone said Gunther’s proposal is “worth studying to see if it can be implemented fairly and effectively.”
Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards said she is “open to hearing any ideas to improve the safety and security of our residents and employees.”
Gunther said that the sheer amount of snow that fell, and the short amount of time it fell in, was also problematic.
“This was a blizzard of unseen proportions,” Gunther said on Monday, adding that the highway department worked for 40 hours straight, deploying 200 town employees and 188 private contractors.
According to unofficial figures released by the National Weather Service, snowfall totals around town varied from 11 inches in areas near Melville, and up to 26.5 inches in areas near Commack. Huntington Station was hit with around 18 inches of snow, and around 20 inches fell in Huntington village, figures show.
Gunther credited New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for imposing a travel ban on all state and local roads on Long Island from 2:30 p.m. on Saturday until 7 a.m. on Sunday.
It was “excellent,” Gunther said.
However, Gunther also said there were issues plowing in Huntington Station. He said the area was difficult to plow due to its high concentration of people, and the amount of vehicles that were left on the streets. He apologized to Huntington Station residents who were displeased with the town’s plowing job.
To avoid future plowing issues, Gunther asked residents to remove vehicles from the streets in advance of a storm. “Find a neighbor, find a parking lot, put it on the lawn, there are all sorts of things you can do,” he said.
Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland also pointed out an issue of snow piling up around fire hydrants. Berland encouraged residents to assist in removing snow by signing up on the town’s website (HuntingtonNY.gov) for the “Adopt-A-Hydrant” program. People who adopt a hydrant are required to keep it clear of litter and debris, including snow.
Other areas around town also got hit hard with snow, leaving residents and businesses to shovel out for hours on end.
In Dix Hills, where 21 inches of snow was reported, two residents said Sunday afternoon that they had been shoveling out for six hours, and still had more work to do.
David Hoff, 52, said he and David Torres, 21, had a “rough start” to their morning, clearing snow from their home on Melrose Road. Torres estimated it would take the two six hours to completely remove the snow.
In Northport Village, which saw 20-25 inches of snow, Mayor George Doll said Monday that most major roads had been cleared.
“We have different sized trucks; we know exactly what truck to send to what neighborhood,” Doll said. “It’s not our first snowstorm.”
Likewise Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica called the blizzard a “non-event.”
“No problems at all, just another snowstorm,” Letica said.
But many continued batting the snowfall well after the blizzard ended.
Neil Gordon, head pharmacist at 110 Pharmacy & Surgical at 459 Walt Whitman Road, said the blizzard shut down the pharmacy on Saturday, adding to the Monday’s morning rush.
“A lot of people called to fill their prescriptions [yesterday], but they came today,” Gordon said on Monday. “Today, we’ve been busy with people picking up their medicines.”
Gordon said the pharmacy’s parking lot was cleared by a contractor, but that employees had to shovel and salt the curb area themselves.
“I’m not a winter fan,” he said. “I don’t know if you can print this, but winter sucks.”