Vallone Says City’s Ready For Snowstorms
Following a City Council hearing on the touchy topic last Wednesday, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. declared:
“The time for blame is over—the administration has learned from its mistakes and has worked hard to make improvements. I’m satisfied that the plans that are in place will ensure that our streets are plowed and New Yorkers will remain safe during all future blizzards.”
Vallone’s Public Safety Committee and the Sanitation Committee had just concluded a joint hearing at City Hall where key city officials stated that steps have been taken to assure a quick and efficient removal effort after any storm.
At previous meetings of Vallone’s and the Sanitation panels following last December’s furious snow blizzard, the Mayor’s Offices of Operations and Citywide Emergency Communications had issued a 15 point action plan to improve emergency responses, Vallone said.
At the same time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had issued an order which established a process for responding to winter weather emergencies, he recalled. That had been one problem that contributed to last December’s bungled response.
But the main focus of the meeting was on the city Department of Sanitation and the Office of Emergency Management. Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said there will be more sanitation workers assigned to snow removal. Workers will also be provided with GPS devices in all sanitation trucks to move them quickly to problem areas as needed, and private contractors and temporary snow cleaners will be part of the overall snow fighting effort as well, Vallone said.
Doherty said the private contractors’ main job will be to clear tertiary or side streets. This will eliminate the problem of using department trucks which will be able to concentrate on main thoroughfares.
For this year’s snowstorms Doherty said, the city will have about 140 more uniformed sanitation men to assign to snow removal duty, as compared to the 6,140 that were available last year.
Vallone told Doherty he was pleased with most of the changes the department had made since last year.
One problem that had occurred last year and delayed the start of clean-up operation was that no emergency was declared quickly. To deal with that problem, each time there is a prediction of six or more inches of snow, meetings have been set up involving several city agencies. They will survey the situation and make recommendations to the mayor, who will decide whether or not to call an emergency.