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Jan 19, 2011 8:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Officials Short On Reasons For Poor Snow Removal

Jan 19, 2011 8:53 AM

Southampton Village officials are expected to meet today, January 20, to review what many considered to be an unsatisfactory effort to clear the village’s streets in the wake of last week’s blizzard.

The village received a lot of post-storm flak from local residents and merchants. By last Thursday, a day after the snow from the January 11 and 12 storm stopped, main roads across the South Fork were, for the most part, fully cleared, but major roads in the village—including Hill Street, Main Street and Jobs Lane—were still covered in ice and compacted snow. Many sidewalks, likewise, were far from clear. “The roads are the worst I’ve seen in the 18 years I’ve been driving in the village,” United Parcel Service driver Rob Fleischmann said last week.

Mayor Mark Epley expressed disappointment in the work that was done, and—a week after the storm that buried the East End in an average of 12 inches of snow—said no reason for the poor performance had been pinpointed.

“It’s not like it’s the first storm we’ve ever had out here,” he said this week. “I’m not satisfied with the job the village employees did, period, from the maintenance of the sidewalks to the roads. They did a bad job. I’m not going to make excuses.”

The closest village officials came to providing a reason was that the village snowplows use rubber blades, not the steel blades used by Southampton Town, Suffolk County and New York State, as well as other East End villages, such as Sag Harbor, where roads following the storm were reportedly smoother than in Southampton Village.

Mr. Epley said his village does have one plow equipped with steel blades, but said he only learned this week that that plow is “broken down.” He said the village primarily uses the rubber blades because they are supposedly less destructive to the streets and less destructive to the plowing vehicles themselves.

The mayor said he plans to meet with John Brostowski, superintendent of the village’s Highway Department, which is responsible for snow and ice removal; Gary Goleski, superintendent for the village’s Department of Public Works; and Village Administrator Stephen Funsch and Village Attorney Richard DePetris to discuss what went wrong and what can be done going forward.

Mr. Brostowski said the sequence of heavy snow, followed by a pause, followed by heavy rain, sleet and more snow, and plunging temperatures early last Wednesday morning—coupled with the use of rubber, not steel blades, on the plows—were the cause of the still-lumpy roads.

He said traffic and speed limits were another factor: “Traffic was out, and it’s impossible to plow these main drags. Hill Street’s a killer. The speed limit’s 25 mph. How do we blast through this ice if we gotta go 20 mph and worry about rush-hour traffic?”

“We’ve been behind the 8-ball all day and it’s thawing out pretty good,” he said during a brief respite Thursday afternoon after having been up since 4:30 a.m. He also noted that motorists on the main streets make the work more difficult: “If people aren’t going to let us do our job, they’re their own worst enemy.”

Village employees from the highway, parks and building maintenance departments teamed up for storm cleanup, village officials said.

Mr. Epley noted that the village decided not to hire private contractors. The village usually uses its own employees for snow removal but has hired contractors in the past to supplement their effort. A pre-Christmas storm in 2009 cost the village approximately $70,000 in one day, he said. Village records include a list of nine contractors who were hired for that storm.

Village officials this week could not provide a specific figure for this year’s snow budget, though $600,000 has been budgeted for contractual services for the highway and beaches, a broader category that includes some snow removal, though not equipment and supplies.

Bob Schepps of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce said he thought Southampton did a “pretty good job” but added, “Snow is a four-letter word for business.”

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People NOT staying off the roads, as they should be?


What is the fine these days, for having to abandon your vehicle, where the plows need to roll?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 13, 11 6:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
So many excuses!

Hopefully when everyone is back from vacation, we will get to the bottom of this . . . . hmmmmm.

Is this the first snow storm the Village has had to deal with?

You can't make this stuff up!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 13, 11 6:33 PM

I'm glad that the Village is recognizing what a disaster zone the streets were. I could not believe it.

I'm interested to see what the Village board's reaction is going to be. Will residents go to Village board meeting to raise hell. I strongly urge them to drive the roads outside the Village to compare and judge whether the work done on their streets is acceptable. More importantly merchants should file their complaints as well. I essentially turned around and left what I had to ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 13, 11 6:58 PM
I think the people of the East End have been spoiled.
I for one, do not need to go to the market, post office, gas station...yata yata yata...on a day we get 1 foot of snow! And for Christ Sake... you were warned 48 hours in advance that it was going to be a major storm. There should be no one allowed out in non 4wd vehicles when we get snow. Keep a path clear to the hospital. If doctors and nurses need rides to the hospital, lets setup a system of volunteers that have 4X4 to get them there. ...more
By c'mon now (46), southampton on Jan 13, 11 7:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Come on now, "c'mon now," this discussion is not about the day of the snow yesterday, Wednesday. It is about the Village's substandard plowing efforts TODAY, Thursday. Even Mayor Epley has expressed dissatisfaction!

Did you drive on the major roads in the Village this afternoon? Did you feel that they were properly plowed?

Your points are well-taken for the day of a major snow storm but that was yesterday.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 13, 11 7:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe they should switch from rubber, to Kevlar?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 13, 11 9:15 PM
By joan s (53), hampton bays on Jan 14, 11 7:49 PM
I remember walking to school on roads that looked just like that over twenty years ago. Sidewalks were almost never clear so you had to walk on the road. Its been a lot of years since the east end has had snow like that. Its not always going to be a perfect clean up. Take it slow...and get where you need to go.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Jan 13, 11 7:41 PM
pstevens, IMO the two photos above do not really give a good sense of how bad things were this afternoon. You had to drive the major streets to see this. I assume from your ID that you live out of town?

Was it the end of the world? No, but relative to other downtowns and the rural streets handled very well by SH Town, the Village streets this afternoon were a real mess. Hopefully the fleet of snow plows seen later this afternoon (some of which looked like sub-contractor trucks with heavy-duty ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 13, 11 8:00 PM
They never even cleaned up Main street from the first storm.....TWO WEEKS AGO.......The mayor is responsible for keeping these departments in full gear and any supervisor should have the due diligence whether on vacation or not, to care about the village that gives him a JOB and take care of these things from afar , the mayor simply is not taking care of business by laying it down.....70,000 dollars for last years horrible clean up from outside source if anything that should have been IN ADDITION ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Jan 13, 11 9:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
Maybe items would not be so expensive, but for the outreageous rents, and exorbitant leases...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 13, 11 9:13 PM
Ouch! y4ubsomean2me? I Think Mr. Z has hit the nail on the head. A large part of the problem of the empty stores in in the Village is the "rents are too dammed high"! and the landlords lock you in for long term leases. Trust me I've seen many retailer in small retailers,boutiques, die by that fact. Stores that ran successful businesses from the beaches of St. Bart's to the slopes of Courchevel. The rents are high and the Season is too short. To be successful here long term you need to have products ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 13, 11 11:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 28, 11 10:16 PM
NOW the mayor is unhappy? Did he even notice or care that people who work on the shady side of the street still have to deal with snow and ice from two weeks ago? Other towns had clear sidewalks and parking lanes just days after that storm. Not us. And now we have more piled on top of that.
By SusieD (115), Southampton on Jan 13, 11 10:14 PM
OMG! Are you kidding me?!?! Be thankful you at least have a path to get out at all! Driving a plow is a tough job, especially with heavy show, wind, and rain/freezing rain. There are only so many places to put the snow! If everyone had just stayed home (AS ADVISED) instead of getting in their way and allowing them to do their jobs, it could have been better. Stop complaining and become part of the solution instead of adding to the problem.
By honeylamb (71), East Quogue on Jan 14, 11 6:00 AM
I am SOOOOOO glad .....I am not a village tax payer......The employees (crew workers) are a bunch of LAZY... whining.....BABYS! They can certainly collect there overtime But can never finish a job???????
By gallerygirl (29), southampton on Jan 14, 11 6:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
So the public works super does a Chris Cristie, and the village can't handle the snow storm? I say replace those rubber blades with gold ones. Hey it's the Hamptons you know. Next time, declare a snow emergency, and keep folks off the roads so you can do a decent clean up. While your at it, hand the 7Eleven day labors some snow shovels. Sounds like the village needs to consult with Mayor Bloomberg on damage control.
By A'non (1), da Hamptons baby on Jan 14, 11 7:39 AM
2 members liked this comment
ummm...why not get a shovel and clear it yourself? and everyone on the block can chip in for the older people who shouldn't be doing that and help them out? when did we become such a crew of whiners?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jan 14, 11 10:05 AM
Waaahhhhh! What a bunch of candy-asses. Can't even deal with a snowstorm. The town can't do everything for you - one has to take responsibility for snow management & safe travel into their own hands.
1) LISTEN and TAKE SERIOUSLY the weather reports (this was forecast to be a bad one at least 3 days in advance)
2) Prepare in advance and get all of your shopping, gas, errands done to tide you over for a few days. Make provisions to work from home if you can.
By SisBoomBonacker (106), Hamptons on Jan 14, 11 10:42 AM
3 members liked this comment
All true. But what people are complaining about are conditions more than 24 hours after the storm in the Village as opposed to the dramatically better condition outside of it in the town.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 14, 11 11:27 AM
2 members liked this comment
@ V Tomanoku~ Fyi, Dansk was on Mainstreet for well over 10 years and as far as you coming to the village today to shop in the stores you can afford I.e. thrift stores your going from one extreme to another.....I agree with alot of what you say...., there are stores with similar products with different price points as you cited with Vinyard Vines and Brooks Bro and that was my point....But, your never gonna get thrift store prices in a regular retail enviroment so lets be realistic here~what ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Jan 14, 11 12:27 PM
Good I'm glad we can agree on something.
Dansk was a great store and it lasted for 10 years because it offered a quality product at an affordable price.
Your right about the thrift shops its not a basis for comparison and its pot luck finding what you need when you want it. I use those examples because to the extent I might be shopping for clothes in the Village, by chance, I cannot think of one store I might shop at on a price and style basis. The only store that would make sense would ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 14, 11 2:14 PM
We ....always go to Riverhead! I used to own a shop in the village...... This should ring a bell? I used to always try and support the "local" merchants.......Done!
By gallerygirl (29), southampton on Jan 15, 11 7:32 AM
Well I was in the Village for diner on Friday night. My impression was that the streets were still no better with large ice sheets,ruts, and bumps all over. Less slushy though. Anybody else have the same impression?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 15, 11 8:25 AM
If nothing else, would it make sense to clean the roads to the schools and hospital? The schools managed to have their parking lots and access clean, just a day after the storm! Here it is Saturday, and the roads are still horrible. Doesn't the safety of our children outweigh the "budget"? Hire less expensive contractors! (and no I wasn't referring to a day laborer!)
By Josy4 (1), Southampton on Jan 15, 11 9:20 AM
to V. Tamanoku:

Obviously, the "business model" that the majority of Southampton Village stores pursue is to charge resort prices in the summer and make enough in those few months to afford a year's rent with a profit even though closed for half the year.

This makes them dependent on a clientele that is disinclined to shop around (after all, they're on vacation) and buys on impulse, rather than on local residents.

SOME shops, the one's selling designer goods with huge ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 15, 11 1:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
I guess so. At the end of the day it comes down to the fact that 'the rent is dammed high!". I think there is to much fear of the Riverhead boogieman and exploitation of it. As you mentioned the economy here is different and there is no plan to adopt a Riverhead style development model. However this does not mean we cannot have box stores here either. Bridgehampton commons functions quite well alongside local businesses. Quality, customer care, and knowledge count for a lot.

Recently ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 15, 11 6:13 PM
I am sure the Village workers will work as many hours as asked.. it is overtime.. I think it's unfair to blame the workers if they are given the wrong equipment or their work schedule is not correct.
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Jan 15, 11 3:55 PM
Southampton Town, Suffolk County and NYS roads were all pretty fine, even many if not most of the back roads, the day of the storm. Blaming people for being out during rush hour TO GO TO THEIR JOBS is the lamest excuse I've ever heard. All the other districs managed to do it without complaining or sucking. A better excuse by Brostowski would have been, "we weren't prepared", at least I can believe that and accept it. Again, Brostowski blaming hard working people for being out on the roads going ...more
By cochise316 (58), southampton on Jan 16, 11 10:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
I guess the merchants on the south side of Hampton Road from Main Street to the grade school did not pay their property taxes? What a lunar landscape the curb area is, almost a week later! Portions of other main streets did not get a thoroughclean up at night during the warm Saturday night, either, it would appear. Now what remains is too frozen deal with except with the heaviest of equipment.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 17, 11 1:54 PM
Horrible job!
By nurse (53), sag harbor on Jan 28, 11 12:44 AM