Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ice Job for New Paltz

I wrote up my thoughts about snow-covered sidewalks before yesterday's wintry mess brought fluffy inches coated with ice, which melted and refroze overnight to leave most area residents staying inside if they could help it.  After pushing my wife out of our plowed-and-iced driveway and shoveling more of the frozen plowshare (with the hopes that additional salting would make the next round possible), I had the opportunity to see how my neighbors fared in the conditions.

This storm was definitely more than we could handle.  No matter where I went, I saw one or more of three things:
  1. People breaking up ice with whatever tools were available, from metal shovels and hoes to sturdy boots.
  2. Ice, ice, and more ice, sometimes over snow and sometimes not.
  3. Water, either dammed into pools by the ice or sitting atop it as the sun melted it all again.
I found it very difficult to find places to safely walk, and it wasn't because residents and employees weren't trying.  The only safe passage was on sidewalks alongside the campus and Hasbrouck Park, and the caterpillar treads were all the explanation I needed.

Storms like this our outside of our ordinary abilities to react to completely and quickly.  This is a case where a government can be used for its intended purpose - to do things that need to be done to keep civilization chugging along.  Safe streets and sidewalks are part of that mission.  If the village were charged with removing snow from the sidewalks, it would have been done far more quickly and thoroughly than we as a community have accomplished so far.

I got home to discover that the remaining snow-covered half of my sidewalk melted enough to collapse onto the cleared portion, rendering it pretty much impassable.  It was already too cold to make much of a difference, so make sure to wave to me tomorrow as I try to clear away the old stuff before tomorrow's flurries.

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