In the waning hours of 2000, Long Islanders experienced the most significant snowfall in four years. On Saturday, Dec. 30, snow blanketed most of Long Island, accumulating in excess of ten inches. Three days after the storm, in a different year - 2001 - Town of Hempstead residents are still dealing with the snow. That's because some claimed their streets were not plowed, making for a messy situation.
The snowstorm on Saturday made for messy conditions on this West Hemsptead street even three days after the snowfall.
Over in West Hempstead, one resident refused to let her children ride school buses, fearing that the roads were still unsafe. Others complained that the town hadn't done an adequate job of plowing side streets.
Former Town of Hempstead Councilman N. Scott Banks, a resident of West Hempstead, said the job the town did in plowing in his neighborhood was horrendous. Banks said he called the town Saturday to see if his street was going to be plowed. "Ultimately, it was done. But I drove through West Hemsptead Sunday and Monday and it was terrible. They did a terrible job," he said.
Last year, during one snowfall, Banks said he didn't think the town did such a great job plowing, but that snowfall wasn't nearly as significant as the one on Saturday. "I think this year they just dropped the ball," he said.
West Hempstead Civic Association President Seth Bykofsky took a humorous approach in describing how the town cleared the roads. Bykofsky said a truck came by his street at 8 p.m. on Saturday and sort of moved all the snow into the middle of the road. Another truck came by on Sunday and dropped sand on top of the snow in the middle of the street, he said. "It's like salt onto a wound. But, the only good thing is that we now have beach front property. I assume there will be a corresponding tax increase."
Banks said he doesn't know why the town did such a bad job plowing the streets since the snow was predicted. He believes the fact that the snow fell on the weekend shouldn't have anything to do with the job the town does on plowing streets. "They have to be ready for it. This is a town that has to be prepared. We don't have that many snowstorms. I just don't think they handled it right at all. It's mind-boggling to me," he said.
Town of Hemsptead spokesperson Mike McConnell said it was a very difficult snowstorm to plow for because it occurred on a holiday weekend when most residents were home. Vehicles were parked on residential streets, making the streets difficult to clear. McConnell said it would help if residents could park their vehicles, if possible, in driveways and off the streets so that the streets could be more easily cleared.
While most of the main roads were plowed, some of the side streets just weren't done, Banks said. "Driving on Sunday, I realized that the streets were in terrible shape. It's sort of disturbing," he said. "They had plenty of warning. It [the snow] wasn't a surprise. This is a basic service that you have to provide people. You have to do it."
On Tuesday, McConnell said the town was still working on clearing the streets. Crews were out and were going to be working on an around the clock basis to plow the streets, he said.
McConnell said plows went through all of the neighborhoods either on Saturday or Sunday. However, the town recognizes that there are still some problems. Residents can expect side streets in the town to be plowed, he said.
"Hopefully, when the next snowstorm comes along, they will do a better job on it," Bykofsky said.