Winter storm in Utica leaves City plows struggling to keep up


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - It was mid-afternoon by the time Reggie Parrish of Utica pushed himself out of the house to shovel.

"I don't like the cold. I don't like the cold but I had to push myself to get out here and do it for my wife. She's gotta go shopping, so," said Parrish, who scoffed at a sign on his front porch, which read, 'winter fun.'
Several Uticans expressed dissatisfaction on the NewsChannel 2 Facebook page about the adequacy of the plowing of their streets. Some said that west Utica streets, including Baxter and O'Brien, appeared untouched. Utica's DPW commissioner says they knew this day would come.

"Big challenge and it just keeps coming. It's not stopping.  And this is the scenario we've been talking about for a couple of years now, reduced manpower, reduced budgets. What do we do in a two-day storm? Here it is," says Commissioner Dave Short.
Short says the city is holding its own, with the 15 of the city's 17 plows up and running. He says the big push is in the morning, so that people can get to work.
"What our goal is to hit our mains, which are Genesee Street, the Parkway, Broad Street, then we go into our secondaries, those are the residential streets."
Short advises people that, while the storm doesn't hold back, the DPW has to face it with resources that have been diminished over the years.
"Over the years, Utica's always had a blacktop policy. That's when the city was lush with all sorts of funds and DPW had money to spread salt no matter what they wanted to do and we don't have that capability anymore. Not the way the budget has been in the last 5, 6 years...we just can't put people on the streets on a 24-hour basis. It's just not going to happen. We don't have the manpower. Don't have the money," says Short.  The commissioner adds that, for now, it just doesn't make sense to salt the roads.
"Because we're trying to hold our salt, we're using our salt for weight right now, at the end of the storm we'll put the salt down on the roads because if we put it down now, we're just plowing it over, we're wasting it."
Short says if you want to help ensure that your street is adequately plowed, heed the snow emergency and have your car off of the road by 10pm Thursday.
"If they're not off the road, we'll tow them."

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