By G. Michael Dobbs
I've been greeting people I know this week with the question, "How's your street?"
I'll ask you the same question. If you would like to answer it, please go to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ReminderPublications
The basic understanding I've received is that Chicopee, Holyoke and Agawam did well with snow removal. Mayor Daniel Knapik of Westfield has been posting on Facebook regularly with updates on how his city cleaned up after the storm and where more work needed to be done. Chicopee's Michael Bissonnette and Holyoke's Alex Morse also were communicating directly with their constituents.
But Springfield is another story and my own observations were confirmed with a quick sampling of Facebook friends.
"Pathetic with a capital 'P'" wrote one person, while another observed, "Very happy with our street, but completely dissatisfied with how the rest of Springfield was handled."
I was driving on Feb. 11 down Dwight Street in Springfield and none of the on-street parking was cleared. The same day I was in Holyoke to cover a story and the downtown streets were cleared to the curb and people were using those spots.
It seems that Holyoke has a machine that makes those nice clean cuts in the snow. Why doesn't Springfield have one of those?
Why is Springfield consistently the community where snow removal is always an unpredictable undertaking?
Our little street got plowed sometime Sunday morning. My street is narrow to start, but now it requires even more attention from motorists.
We were lucky, I suppose. There were still Springfield streets that had not been plowed as of Feb. 11. That is unacceptable.
The quality of the plowing was also unacceptable. There are huge piles of snow at the ends of streets creating serious traffic risks. If I get hit, can I sue the city?
Springfield is a decent size city in a state that has snowstorms. Yes, two feet is a lot of snow – my body still aches from shoveling – but this was no surprise. The TV weather people were all over this puppy for days before it happened.
So who is responsible in Springfield for this inept performance? Let's see who steps up.
Of course, yet unnamed city employees were the only ones exhibiting bad behavior. Although at first, people, for the most part, behaved as they should have. The local weather people got them into a state of frenzy and the public emptied out the stores. They also seemed to heed Gov. Deval Patrick's sensible ban on travel.
However, I couldn't understand why people left their vehicles parked on the street when there is a parking ban in Springfield, making the snow removal even more of a challenge. Nor could I understand why people thought it was acceptable to throw their sidewalk or driveway snow into the street after it had been plowed. Or why it's OK to put your snow onto your neighbor's property and make him or her remove it.
On the morning of Feb. 11, my wife and I looked out before leaving for work to see a driver park his car in the street in order to remove quite a bit of snow from the rear of his car. He brushed it onto the street, got into his car and left. The pile will probably be transformed into a nice ice bump.
So, between the inexplicable lack of quality control, much less an apparent plan, coupled with selfish human behavior, I'm afraid my hometown had little to be proud about how it handled this storm.
I can only wonder what those casino officials thought about investing $500 million into a city that can't get snow plowing right.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.