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Halloran says NE Queens streets still clogged with snow

Halloran says NE Queens streets still clogged with snow
Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves a press conference in St. Albans Thursday after speaking about snow cleanup. Photo by Ellis Kaplan
By Anna Gustafson

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said streets in parts of Bayside, Whitestone and College Point had still not been plowed as of Thursday afternoon, leaving many residents unable to get to work or receive medical attention.

“We had people in Bayside who were out of power for three days,” Halloran said during a conference call Thursday afternoon. “They lost heat. We have numerous residents who couldn’t go to work, and many of these people are not salaried employees. These are serious, serious issues for them, and all of these families had to suffer for it. We’ve received word several people were not able to make doctors’ appointments.”

Halloran said his office has received more than 224 complaints from constituents about snow-related problems. Meanwhile, residents said streets continued to remain unplowed, and Halloran said areas in northern Bayside, Whitestone and College Point were especially problematic. Borough President Helen Marshall said at a news conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in St. Albans Thursday that there were still far too many roads that remained unplowed in the borough.

“Where is the plow?” Marshall asked.

She said the messy streets made it impossible for many residents to drive their own cars or to take mass transit.

“The routes for the buses should have been cleaned and they weren’t,” she said.

The National Weather Service reported 16 inches of snow fell at John F. Kennedy International Airport and 13 inches fell at LaGuardia Airport between Sunday and Monday mornings, and Queens and the City Council planned to hold a Jan. 10 hearing on what Queens legislators said was a woefully inadequate response to the storm. Other hearings on the response were expected to be scheduled.

Streets throughout the outer boroughs were unplowed or under-plowed for days. State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said a Corona woman, Yvonne Freeman, died because emergency responders could not reach her in time due to impassable streets.

Halloran said five city workers, including two Department of Transportation and three Sanitation Department employees who work in Queens, told him Wednesday that they were told by supervisors “to take their time” plowing roads because the “mayor’s office doesn’t care about them.”

“When they reported for duty, they were told to wait for instructions to park in particular areas, and they’d be given instructions for which secondary streets to plow,” Halloran said during Thursday’s call. “Some sat for six to eight hours and were not given instructions which secondary streets to plow.”

The workers told Halloran they were told to do this because of cuts the mayor made to the city Sanitation Department. In the last two years, 400 workers were cut from the agency and 100 department supervisors’ salaries were expected to be reduced Friday.

Bloomberg, who visited St. Albans Thursday, said he did not believe the meeting between Halloran and the workers happened.

“It would be an outrage if it took place,” Bloomberg said.

Gov. David Paterson has called for an investigation into the allegations, and city Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said his department would also look into the matter.

“As of now, I can’t confirm that and I’ve no reason to,” Doherty said in St. Albans.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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