15 Sep 2014
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UPDATE: More Plowing To Be Done, Vecchio Told by Highway Chief

Supervisor praises workers; says he communicated as best as he could.

Update, 11:49 a.m. – Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio now expects all town roads to be "passable" by this evening he said, after speaking with Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen after Patch's initial interview.

Passable, Vecchio said as told by Jorgensen, means roads would be opened up enough for at least one car could go down them.

Further work to bring plowed streets down to street level and remove snow piles from commercial sidewalks and lots will be carried out over the upcoming week, he said, adding that he was only relaying info from his highway superintendent.

"There is an elected highway superintendent. I have no control over how he plows his roads. He is elected, he doesn’t work for us. He works for the highway department," Vecchio said.

Original Story – Smithtown officials on Monday morning said all roads should be clear and passable after Friday's blizzard dumped more than two feet of snow on the region.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said highway department crews worked well past the 5 p.m. Sunday deadline until midnight to ensure all the town's roadways were passable for the morning commute.

"I think they did a wonderful job under the circumstances, people may not realize that," Vecchio said.

Town crews facing numerous difficulties clearing more than two feet of heavy, wet snow on the area's roads.

"A lot of equipment has been broken down, big trucks were getting towed out because they were stuck in the heavy snow," Vecchio said.

Vecchio said he was doing the best he could to get information out, speaking with News 12 as there weren't many media out there. He did not return multiple calls from Patch to his office from Friday through Sunday.

There are more than 100 town plows heading back to work on Monday morning, according to the supervisor. Highway Department crews are hoping to remove enough snow to reach asphalt as forecasts call for freezing rains on Monday. Payloaders will be used to remove large piles of plowed snow from commercial sidewalks and lots.

In addition to the town's crews, they have received aid of three payloaders from the state's Department of Transportation and two payloaders from Suffolk County by roughly 5 p.m. Sunday.

Vecchio asked for residents to be understanding that town has been working on the roadways as quickly as possible.

"People have to understand it was heavy and wet snow, very difficult to push to the side with these trucks. It was obviously slower work than if you were pushing 8 to 9 inches of snow," he said.

But the time it took to clear town roads has residents frustrated.

"In all past snowstorms, Smithtown's prompt response to road cleanup was better than that of any other town in the county. Even side streets would be plowed during the storms so that accumulation was minimal. What happened this time?," commented Mary Jane Bennett.

Bennett, who writes that she is a Nesconset resident of 35 years, had not seen any plows by 5:32 p.m. Sunday.

"There has been no sign of a plow or any kind of snow clearing equipment. It's ridiculous that schools are being closed due to lack of snow removal 2 days after the storm has passed. Something is very wrong with this picture," she said.

Others compared the town's response to LIPA's reactions to Hurricane Sandy.

"This is Vecchio's LIPA moment. He totally fell down on the job. After this debacle,he should retire. A couple of neighbors with plows on their pickup trucks plowed Fourth St. in St. James. Where is the Smithtown Highway Department," wrote Mike Bauer.

Lack of public communication from the town's leaders left residents angered and frustrated, wondering when they would be plowed.

"Town Supervisors from surrounding towns informed their residents early on and frequently during the Sandy restoration and this blizzard. Smithtown is always last with the least information," wrote Christine Radcliffe.

The supervisor said he did have the town's website updated twice over the storm: 6 p.m Saturday and near 6 p.m. Sunday.

There is a third update posted at 9:30 a.m. Monday that reads:

Town of Smithtown Highway and Parks Departments are continuing to clear Smithtown roadways. Please be patient as there is a tremendous volume of snow to be removed. Please do your best to keep vehicles off the roadways.

Residents still facing difficulty with unplowed streets can call the Highway Department at 631-360-7500 or Public Safety Department at 631-360-7553.

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