What About Us?

Contributed PhotoWhen city plows failed to arrive yet again, neighbors on one block brought out their shovels.  One neighbor reports.

There are ten houses on Richmond Avenue in Westville, the little deadend street the city can’t find.

Despite City declarations that every street was cleared after the most recent major snow storm, not a single plow touched Richmond Avenue over the last three snow storms. Neighbors called the Emergency Operations Center numerous times, concerned particularly about elderly residents on the block in need of regular medical attention.

Finally, after two without sign of a plow following the last big storm, a team of neighbors armed themselves with shovels and dug a passable lane down the block. The hardy unpaid snow removal crew included Richmond Avenue residents Chris Kristen, Tim Kane, Dean Peckham, Ruth Drews, Bruce Larkin,  and 5-year-old Charlie Wortman.

They heaped the snow along the sides of the narrow lane, leaving piles more than five feet high.

Charlie’s mother Jodi Cohen says, “There’s a nice community spirit here coupled with spitting anger at the city for ignoring us and our complaints consistently. We may be a tertiary road, but we have to get to work and emergency vehicles need a means of access here, too. There’s a long history of the city pretending we just don’t exist.”

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posted by: V on February 2, 2011  12:51pm

Your tax dollars [not] at work.

posted by: davec on February 2, 2011  1:14pm

The residents of Anderson Street between Canner and Willow (of which I am not one) hand shoveled their street, too.  Two days after the last big one, they got tired of waiting for the plows.
This stretch was totally inaccessible to garbage trucks, ambulances, heating oil trucks, everything.  And this stretch of street has a New Haven firefighter and a former alderman living on it.  No love for Anderson.

Really, how hard is it to drive a plow down 500 feet of city street just one time?

Pretty sad considering the property taxes we pay…

posted by: Fitzgerald on February 2, 2011  1:50pm

Wow! Someone on that street must have really pissed Johny Boy badly to get that retribution.

posted by: nfjanette on February 2, 2011  2:03pm

Seems like a property tax rebate/credit for these residents might be in order.  Perhaps that will help the city government to remember them next year.

posted by: V on February 2, 2011  2:22pm

“Seems like a property tax rebate/credit for these residents might be in order.”

These residents should be thankful they haven’t been sued for
a) interfering with union work
b) no hiring enough underrepresented minorities.

posted by: Somewhere in CT (maybe New Haven, maybe not) on February 2, 2011  3:11pm

My neighbor first snowblows his area…gets the cars out and snow off. Then snowblows the driveway. He does this for much of the neighborhood. Then he snow blows the street.


Take matters into your own hands.

Don’t rely on the city to fix everything.

Get shoveling, New Haven.

posted by: JB on February 2, 2011  3:22pm

Wow!  Kudos to the hardy folks on Richmond Street.

Did any city officials or the alderperson for the area have a comment on this story?

posted by: HewNaven?? on February 2, 2011  3:48pm

“Seems like a property tax rebate/credit for these residents might be in order.”

I thought people would be congratulating Richmond Avenue residents for their feat, but, of course, the cheapskates always come out after an ice storm.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 2, 2011  4:05pm

This is the street that is essentially a cul de sac, ending at the base of Forest Road, right? If so, it doesn’t in a rounded form - it just dead ends, so I’m, wondering if a plow can even get down the street and turn around without plowing over people’s front lawns. Has there been issues in the past with plows not being able to turn around, or has the plowing been fine in other years?

posted by: Lincoln Robertson on February 2, 2011  4:10pm

There is no excuse for this. There’s plenty of room for a plow to go between the parked cars. I think the parked car issue is just a blind to divert our attention away from this complete failure in city services.

posted by: Lincoln Robertson on February 2, 2011  4:49pm

Jonathan Hopkins

Even if the street is a dead end it can be plowed. The truck can then reverse out. Or is this too difficult for our public works employees on double time?

posted by: Noteworthy on February 2, 2011  4:58pm

Sure there is an excuse. It will probably go like this: “We forgot and by the time we remembered, it was too late.” It will sound similar to the longevity pay excuse. But hey, look on the bright side, if they can’t find you after a snow storm, they probably won’t be able to find you after a rain storm either and you will be able to escape the rain tax.

posted by: robn on February 2, 2011  5:40pm

Not good. I can’t imagine what it would be like running out of heating oil or medicine or groceries. The peopel who dug out this street should be compensated by the city….just like other independent contractors only probably they should be compenated more because it was essentially forced labor.

posted by: Mrs. B on February 2, 2011  5:45pm

I live nearby.  Didn’t realize this was happening to my neighbors.  No plowing in any of the storms is terrible and inexcusable.  The city needs to contract out for smaller vehicles that can plow a street like Richmond.

posted by: M on February 2, 2011  8:54pm

Your not the only ones unfortunately. The highest tax paying residents of New Haven seem to get the worst treatment. Morris Cove side streets do not get plowed either

posted by: Jacki Fitzpatrick on February 3, 2011  11:01am

Irving Street hasn’t been plowed in 3 storms either. Maybe Johnny thinks no one bothers to vote on these little streets?

posted by: JB on February 3, 2011  12:58pm

10 houses on Richmond, all very likely to be owner occupied.  Property taxes probably range from 7k-10k.  That’s $70,000-$100,000 annually that goes into the city coffers.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 3, 2011  1:15pm

That is the normal condition of a cul de sac. Richmond Avenue does not have this kind of geometry, it just dead ends. It’s possible that plow drivers knew that they couldn’t make the turn at the end of the street and did not attempt it. I also doubt that it would be a good idea to drive a plow in reverse. If one car gets dinged, the city would get sued. This is an honest question, and one that might explain the situation.
Does anyone who lives on the street noticed this problem during past years? Has this particular series of snow storms created a condition on Richmond Avenue that would make it difficult or impossible to plow?

posted by: Frank M on February 3, 2011  8:42pm

1. What are the criteria for prioritizing non-emergency route streets aka “Priority 2” ?

If the City can not articulate clear criteria, then a nice project for NHI would be to find out any correlation btwn “Priority 2” streets and where city hall employees/officials live vs “Priority 0” streets.

2. Why is the Mayor lifting the parking ban when several streets are unplowed (including Irving St) - why can’t he lift the ban in phases ? Or use a spreadsheet or map with all the streets of New Haven ?

I understand it is an unusual winter season, but three major storms should have helped improve the
city’s organization, response, and communication to its residents. Imagine if it was a Katrina ..

posted by: JMS on February 5, 2011  5:02am

I also live nearby and wish I knew this was going on. I would have walked over to lend a hand for sure. Congrats to the neighborhood gang for all pitching in.

The parking/plowing (or lack of plowing) has been pretty awful. Our street sat for a solid week with ample opportunity to plow back to the curbs while the parking ban was in place but no trucks came (we had a single lane plowed initially but no follow up). Now of course it’s too late. I have not really seen any enforcement of the parking ban or towing of cars parked such that they block most of a lane and cause what has become a familiar game of wait your turn or play chicken all over town. I went for a run the other day just to explore around town and it’s bad everywhere. I know this was a lot of snow but with the taxes we all pay the response has been pretty pathetic. Getting around downtown is a mess and traffic coming in and out of town is backed up like crazy every night. It’s not like this is Texas and people are caught off guard with a bunch of snow.