Snowbound outer boroughs should be treated differently, says legislator

With snow removal treated vastly differently in Manhattan and the outer boroughs, one local legislator has a modest proposal for the city administration: Delay the return of alternate side parking in the boroughs where snow and ice-bound streets make it difficult, if not impossible for residents to move their cars.

City Councilmember Vincent Gentile sent a letter to that effect to Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan after the February 25th snowstorm, which dumped an average of 21 inches on city streets.

“I want to suggest that the Department of Transportation amend its policy regarding the suspension of alternate-side parking after snow storms so that the particular needs of outer borough car owners are accommodated as effectively as Manhattan car owners’,” Gentile wrote.

“In the event that a snowfall exceeds a certain, set amount (to be determined by the department), outer boroughs should have an extended suspension of alternate-side parking that exceeds the suspension granted in Manhattan,” he went on.

In a subsequent interview, Gentile said that he had received numerous complaints from constituents about the fact that alternate side regulations were slated to be reinstituted despite the fact that some neighborhood streets were in such bad shape that digging out cars to move them was extremely difficult.

“That kind of snow gets heavy andhard quickly,” Gentile explained, “so you have seniors who have to choose between risking a heart attack and getting a ticket for alternate side parking. We shouldn’t put tax-paying New Yorkers in that situation.”

The view from City Hall, he added, is somewhat skewed by the fact that, in business areas of Manhattan, there was a sustained effort to remove the snow. Nearby, one street was closed and used as a repository for the mounds of snow that had been scooped up by Department of Sanitation (DOS) vehicles, Gentile noted.

“So, within a day or two, it was clear sailing in Manhattan,” he added. “But, if you went to the outer boroughs, it was a totally different story. Streets were minimally plowed and hardened snow surrounded cars. So, DOT and city officials determining it was appropriate to re-impose alternate side parking were looking at Manhattan streets, not at the streets of the outer boroughs. Luckily with days of 40 degree weather, the problem resolved itself, but that doesn’t solve the problem for next time.”

Asked if he was planning to introduce legislation that would codify a two-tier system, Gentile said he was waiting for a response from DOT. “We’ll take it from there,” he noted, pointing out, “If they do it administratively, it would be a quicker way to get it done.”

By press time, DOT had not responded to a request for comment.