It would be in order to first, confess. I am one of those homeowners whose sidewalk was treacherous for some of these bitterly cold weeks. I was not home when the first storm hit and a neighbor kindly shoveled it for me, but the second storm that followed on its heels quickly froze and even an ice melt product did not do the trick. Two weekends ago when the temperatures soared to 40 degrees, I tried tackling it again. It became apparent that my efforts were futile, because even with breaking up the remaining ice and slush, the melting water had nowhere to go because of the banks of frozen snow on either side of the walkway. And eventually, it too would freeze over again. So, I am not speaking from some position of lofty moral fever, but as someone who readily admits to being a cog in a bigger problem.
Storeowners have largely cleared the sidewalks in the business districts and they should be commended along with the residents who did a better job than I did, perhaps shoveling during the night or possessing professional equipment.
But the banks of snow, left behind by the snowplows, with few curb cuts onto the sidewalks have presented a dangerous situation for pedestrians trying to climb over them and drivers trying to maneuver in narrowed lanes. Rather than just pushing the snow to the side of the road, it needs to be removed.
It is a complicated problem because even if the snow were scooped up and hauled away, where could it be dumped? Once upon a time, it was possible to unload it into Little Neck or Manhasset Bay, but those days are gone. The Department of Environmental Conservation does not allow it. Once snow was piled high in Kings Point Park, but that is not allowed now either.
The only viable solution would be to purchase snow-melting machines, as used by New York City's sanitation department, airports and in some cases, private businesses. These are not cheap. (See article on page 3 for details.) While the initial cost is significant, the life of the equipment is 30 years.
In light of the fact that the Village Officials Association is promoting better cooperation and coordination to deal with emergencies, we would like to request that they investigate the feasibility of jointly purchasing such equipment for next year. We see the ice pile-ups this year as qualifying for emergency status, as we hear of more and more people taking falls all over town. We have no way of estimating how much business the merchants lost during the worst weeks, but it must have been considerable.
And look at it as insurance. If the villages purchase such a machine, we will be almost guaranteed a mild winter next year.
- Carol Frank