It’s been a week and a half since the historic blizzard dumped over 2 feet of snow on the area.
And with South Windsor students out on winter break, Chief of Police Matthew Reed, who is also serving as the acting town manager while Matthew Galligan is on vacation, said that now is the time for people to finally finish clearing their sidewalks of snow.
At the Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Reed said that the issue is one of safety, particularly for children who have to walk to their school bus stops.
The town had, at least for the time being, suspended enforcement of a town ordinance in which people who have not cleared their sidewalls will face getting a citation by police.
“We did not go out and threaten people with citations,” Reed said. “We knew there were challenges there. But next Monday, kids are going back to school.”
Reed said that the message is that residents are expected to work through the remainder of this week to clear a path through the snow.
It’s a sore subject in South Windsor, however, as the town’s plowing efforts from the storm in some cases resulted in huge piles of snow being dumped on sidewalks that residents are, by ordinance, required to clear themselves.
Town Councilor Cary Prague said that he knows someone who has a 10-foot high snowbank that goes on for 30 feet as a result of the roads being cleared.
“These are extraordinary circumstances,” Prague said.
Several town officials, including Mayor Tom Delnicki and Director of Public Works Michael Gantick, said that “common sense” should prevail.
During public comment, resident Billy Carroll agreed with Reed, however, stating that his neighbors have not cleared the snow from their sidewalks.
“I have an issue with that,” he said. “We should push our neighbors to do that and push them before school starts [up again].”
The sidewalks in town were part of a larger conversation on the town’s response to the blizzard.
Gantick said that this was the worst storm since the 1880s.
“It’s believable, but crazy,” he said.
In addition to its own personnel, the town had 26 snow removal contractors prior to the storm ready to help with clearing the roads.
Even then, the task was, at times, overwhelming, as equipment broke down or got stuck in the massive snow drifts that appeared throughout South Windsor. During one period on Saturday, Gantick said that eight trucks broke down, several calls for assistance came in and one or two trucks got stuck.
Gantick said that he understands people becoming frustrated by snow being pushed on their sidewalks and driveways, but that the snow had to be put somewhere.
The cost to clear the snow has not been calculated, Gantick said, but it’s “a lot.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the most expensive 48 hours for the town, though Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is looking to have that extended to 72 hours, Gantick said.
“It was quite expensive,” Gantick said.
Councilors, for the most part, gave Gantick glowing reviews for the work he and his staff put in under extremely difficult circumstances.
Delnicki, Deputy Mayor Gary Bazzano and Prague, among others, praised the efforts of town staff.
Bazzano said that public works did “an outstanding job” and that most complaints centered around work done by contractors.
Bazzano added that, in the event of a “blockbuster” storm like that, people must be patient and wait for their roads to be cleared.
But Councilor Saud Anwar, while praising the town, also was concerned about how much worse the situation could have been in the event of a power outage.
Gantick said that town officials would be taking that, along with other things, into a future discussion on preparedness for major storms.