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Mar 10, 2015 5:05 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Messy Sidewalks Shed Light On Lack Of Equipment

Mar 11, 2015 10:33 AM

The brutal winter has taken its toll on Southampton Town—dumping more than 40 inches of snow in a matter of weeks—snow that continues to have a debilitating impact on residents townwide.

In the hamlets of Flanders and Bridgehampton, specifically, residents have raised concerns about piles of snow at bus stops, and sidewalks that have either remained covered or have been completely blocked off by piles of snow and ice, leaving commuters either close to oncoming traffic while they wait for the bus, or forcing them to walk in the street.

“It’s way too dangerous,” Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, said while standing in front of the bus stop near the David W. Crohan Community Center on Flanders Road last week. “It’s really not fair to put people in this situation.”

Mr. Taldone, who utilizes the county bus for his commute, said it has been particularly difficult with the layers of ice under the snow mounds as well. In front of the Crohan Center, a walkway from the benches to the street was covered in a layer of ice as recently as earlier this week, before the temperature finally began to climb. “It’s very dangerous, and, frankly, unnecessary,” he said.

On the other side of the canal, residents in Bridgehampton have experienced similar issues. In the weeks following the blizzard that hit on the night of January 26, sidewalks on the south side of Montauk Highway in the hamlet remained blanketed with snow.

Also, plows with the Southampton Town Highway Department did not make it to the area until two days after that storm, and Nancy Walter-Yvertes, co-chair of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee and a hamlet resident since 1992, said that main road was closed overnight when it finally was plowed, something that has never happened before for as long as she has lived there.

As of this week, though, most of the sidewalks in Bridgehampton along Montauk Highway were finally cleared of snow, although a portion near the Presbyterian Church is still covered with a mixture of ice and slush. While Ms. Walter-Yvertes remains concerned about the remaining sidewalks that are still covered, she admitted that Highway Department crews worked hard considering the amount of snow that was dumped on the area in a short period.

“The first several weeks were awful,” Ms. Walter-Yvertes said. “It was a terrible winter. They didn’t do a terrible job—they did a decent job.”

Town Superintendent of Highways Alex Gregor said the rapid succession of snowstorms followed by ensuing freezing temperatures put a heavy strain on his department, which he said has been working to clear sidewalks and streets for about a month straight.

“We’re doing the best we can,” Mr. Gregor said. “It was a blizzard, and we are making headway, and we’re using the equipment to the best of our ability.”

Mr. Gregor noted that most of his snow removal equipment is in desperate need of an upgrade, as some machines date back to the 1950s. In fact, before the storms starting rolling in, he developed a list that includes some $3.4 million worth of equipment that he said will be needed for next year, including dump trucks, snowblowers, plows, street sweepers and tire chains. The Highway Department’s operating budget is $9.2 million for the current year.

“I’ve been asking the town for years for sidewalk snowblowers, because we don’t have the proper equipment when we have more than 8 or 10 inches of snow,” he said. “It’s winter. Mother Nature wins—we pick up the pieces.”

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

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If we pay outside contractors to plow perhaps we can pay people to shovel and or use a snowblower.
By auntof9 (157), Southampton on Mar 10, 15 6:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
This moron tries to plow 10 inches at a time instead of plowing every couple of hours.
By chief1 (2789), southampton on Mar 11, 15 3:52 PM
the department doesn't have proper updated equipment and the politics of the town board will prevent the highway department from proper funding to obtain updated equipment, they want the highway department to FAIL!!
By jeffscan (19), sh on Mar 11, 15 4:17 PM
It's incredible the disparity that exists between Southampton Town other nearby towns and especially; Southampton Village. The village handled the snow storms incredibly well with their plows, sidewalk plows, and bringing in the large commercial dump trucks to haul away snow piles with coordinated road closures. SH Town is becoming more and more embarrassing with every passing year and withdrawal of more and more services.
By Mouthampton (437), Southampton on Mar 11, 15 7:55 PM
Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor has done an excellent job, even a superb job, with the resources that the Town Board grants him. Unfortunately, those resources are skimpy, principally due to a running feud between Mr. Gregor and Supervisor Throne-Holst. There's blame on both sides of this dispute, but it's worth noting that Ms. Throne-Holst is also feuding, chronically, with at least one member of the Town Board and with the Town Trustees.

It's amazing that anything at all gets done, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Mar 11, 15 10:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
Boot Blacking again...You mustg be running low.
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Mar 12, 15 7:51 PM
I've been thinking about your post for a couple of days, Toma, trying to figure out what it means. The best I can come up with is that you're criticizing me for complimenting Alex Gregor's management of the Highway Department, or maybe for complimenting Anna Throne-Holst's management of the whole town. Either way, I feel sorry for you if you need to lash out whenever someone says something supportive about our elected officials.
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Mar 15, 15 2:29 PM