Some residents criticize snow removal effort, but Grebien defends it

Some residents criticize snow removal effort, but Grebien defends it

Mary Kluit, of Glenwood Avenue in Pawtucket, shovels her driveway last Friday after a storm dropped about eight inches of snow on the city. (Valley Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

PAWTUCKET - The snowfall last Thursday and Friday was nothing like what it was during a February blizzard, but residents were still reporting poor road conditions days after it ended.

Mayor Don Grebien's administration was again taking heat from residents who were not happy that about eight inches of snow could prove such a challenge to remove from the roadways.

"It's the same issues every single storm," resident Joe Clark told The Breeze on Twitter Sunday night. "Nowhere near the curb, ends of streets narrow and messy, which is the most dangerous, trying to turn from a side street onto a main road where the corners are a mess."

Grebien said in an email this week that Department of Public Works employees "put in long hours to ensure that the streets were clear and as safe as possible," getting the "main arteries" down to bare pavement by late Friday afternoon. There were some factors that were outside workers' control, like blowing snow and extreme cold, but he was satisfied with the job done by everyone, said the mayor.

"I was able to witness the operation firsthand as I went around the city throughout the storm both during and after," he said.

An hour-long driving tour of the city more than six hours after the storm ended last Friday found numerous streets still covered by snow and none down to the bare pavement. Not far away, in communities like Cumberland and Lincoln, many main roads were clear and wet pavement visible by 3 p.m.

Grebien said the storm ended around 2 p.m. last Friday, meaning a tour of the city at 3 p.m. would have showed some work still needed to be done. But three residents reported to The Breeze that the storm was over in the city at around 8 or 9 a.m. Friday. A report from Fred Campagna and his Right Weather confirmed that the snow ended around 9 a.m.

As temperatures kept dropping, said Grebien, the salt solution workers were putting down was rendered ineffective, making for a big challenge.

Henry Kinch Jr., former candidate for mayor against Grebien and a frequent critic, got a lot of support for his Facebook post last Saturday asking why "Pawtucket is an ice rink" while other towns were down to the bare pavement.

"Just drove through Pawtucket from Lincoln," wrote one woman in response. "Two different worlds. Even most of the side roads are down to pavement in Lincoln."

According to Grebien, the city's investment in a "code red" system allowed officials to notify residents prior to last week's parking ban. The alert system "was extremely helpful" and allowed officials, with help from police, to clear the streets of cars and allow snow to be removed from curb to curb.

As with any storm, said Grebien, officials did receive a few complaint calls.

"There were a couple of areas where some parts of the street were missed," he said. "The calls were minimal, which would indicate the service was delivered."

"The employees were out there working on all complaints received, especially as the temps increased over the last few days," said Grebien.

"As you know, the city is always striving to improve to ensure residents are receiving the services they deserve," added the mayor. "The city enacted a 'lessons learned' process. After every snowstorm the departments put together all of the data from supervisor reports, phone calls received along with all public safety data. This information is helpful to analyze if/where there may be patterns."

Grebien said he encourages all residents who have issues to call, go online to the city website, visit Facebook, tweet on Twitter during the storms, or call emergency hotlines.

"I further encourage those residents who are still not satisfied to call me directly," he said. "I appreciate all of the input and support that the residents provide. This allows us to improve where needed. The information will be compiled and the data will be reviewed and allow us to better serve the residents."