Harp Applauds Storm Crews

As city workers shifted from plowing snow to hauling it off of city streets, Mayor Toni Harp stopped by public works headquarters to thank street crews for logging long hours to keep New Haven safe.

Harp shared that message in an unannounced noontime visit Friday to the main Department of Public Works (DPW) building on Middletown Avenue. Click the play arrow to hear her speak.

Her visit came as the city dug out from Winter Storm Pax, which dumped 9 to 11 inches of snow on New Haven Thursday and Friday morning. The storm, which came on top of 8 inches of existing snow, posed a special challenge to city plow-drivers, who had to navigate narrow streets where cars had not been removed.

All city streets were passable by Friday mid-morning, according to public works chief Doug Arndt. So the city shifted from snow plowing to snow removal Friday afternoon.

Thomas MacMillan PhotoThat work began on the streets around Ingalls Rink, where the Yale hockey team was set to take on Quinnipiac University Friday night.

During a Friday lunch break, as plow-truck drivers munched on pizza in DPW lunch room, Harp showed up with her chief of staff and spokesman. In brief remarks, Harp said she wanted the drivers to know how important their work has been over the last day. Because they cleared the streets, people can get to the hospital, go for dialysis treatment, and avoid car accidents, she said.

“This has been a grueling winter because of all the different storms,” she said. “I that know you’re tired. I know you have to face irritable residents, people who call you names sometimes, people who are totally upset by this weather.”

“I just want you to know that I appreciate it, that I thank you, that I value the work that you do on behalf of our town,” she said. “You have met our expectations and surpassed them.”

Plow drivers showed up for work at 5 a.m. on Friday, after working up to 18-hour shifts the day before. Dave Lawlor took the wheel of a Dodge Ram 5500, equipped with an 8-foot plow. At 11 a.m., he was weaving between cars on side streets in East Rock and Fair Haven.

The hardest part of plowing? “It’s the cars,” Lawlor said. “For some reason they won’t park in driveways.” He pointed out empty, un-shoveled driveways on streets crowded with cars.

On Mill River Street, word came over the radio: The “MT” tractor was stuck in the snow at Chapel and East streets. Driver Kenny Belardinelli (pictured) said the tractor, equipped with a massive snowblower, had slipped sideways. It was leaning heavily against a chain-link fence.

Lawlor didn’t have a chain to pull out the MT. A payloader later hauled the machine back to stable ground.

After lunch and Harp’s pep talk, DPW supervisor Lynnwood Dorsey announced a new assignment. It was time to switch to removing snow. There was nowhere left to push the snow on the streets, he said.

He sent trucks and payloaders to Sachem and Prospect streets, near the Yale hockey rink.

Payloaders piled snow into dump trucks and a tractor trailer, making way for the estimated 3,500 hockey fans expected to descend on Ingalls Rink Friday night.

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posted by: poetbum on February 14, 2014  5:38pm

City plows and trucks are being used to clean up Yale’s parking lots?  Is that part of Yale’s agreement with the city?  They better be paying a lot of money to the town to make servicing the hockey crowd more important than facilitating travel in the less fancy neighborhoods.

[Editor’s note: City crews are clearing the streets in that area, not the private parking lots.]

posted by: robn on February 14, 2014  6:01pm

“You have met our expectations and surpassed them.” Mayor H

What planet is this mayor living on? NHPW was NOT able to meet citizens expectations because here administration did NOT meet expectations by enforcing an odd side parking ban.

posted by: theheights on February 15, 2014  4:12pm

I agree - stick to one thing - ban parking around the city or don’t. But, don’t keep changing your mind.

posted by: Ex-NHPD on February 15, 2014  5:49pm

Has the Mayor been out on the streets of New Haven?  Has she not seen the disasterous conditions of not only the small neighborhood streets, but main thoroughfares?

I drove into New Haven yesterday to go to the Q/Y Hockey game.  I was going to stop at my favorite spot, JP Dempsey’s, before the game. I knew better than trying to get there by way of the East Rock Neighborhood side streets. I could not park on Edwards, without being in the travel lane.  State Street was barely wide enough for two way traffic.  I’m not sure what happens to traffic when a Bus tries to drive down State Street.  Alas, no pre-game dinner at Dempsey’s.  Sachem Street,(which received special attention?) eastbound, barely had the lane open.  No one could park in the direction.  Westbound had cars parked, but cars driving west were right on the centerline. 

The Mayor’s words of praise to the Public Works Employees were Mind Boggling.  She told them that the expectations are set high, and they exceeded the expectations.  If she believes that Public Works has done an exceptional job this winter, she is delusional.

I am not pointing blame at the Public Works Employees.  The blame is first and foremost to those in charge of City Hall now and over the past 30+ years.  There has NEVER been a successful playbook implemented to tackle the task, nor any urgency to develop one after every winter of failure. 

Mayor Harp should call her NHPD Driver and take a spin through EVERY neighborhood in the City.  Then, Harp should reject her words of yesterday.  She should then admit that the City failed miserably, and that she is now demanding a complete overhaul of how the City addresses snow removal, with all City Agencies involved coming together to develop a Model that will succeed.

posted by: Razzie on February 16, 2014  7:53am


I live in New Haven, so I didn’t have to drive into the city to see what is going on. And to me, the condition of the city streets is as I would expect for the amount of snow we have received. A lot of snow, and no where to put it ... equals poor driving conditions and not enough places to park cars. In act, I even cancelled Valentine’s Day dinner plans because I knew the conditions would not be favorable. But that event can be rescheduled.

I imagine that you are retired and live in the suburbs on a New Haven pension. You may or may not still pay city taxes to support the provision of essential city services to residents and non-residents alike. However, I would urge you to have some consideration for those who continue to work in municipal services, as well as those who continue to pay taxes. Everyone is doing their best to cope with the hand Mother Nature has dealt us. If you doubt it, perhaps you should try riding the snowplows at 3:00 AM. S_it Happens, from time to time. We simply have to deal with it.