Mayor de Blasio: 'More could have been done' on Upper East Side snow

Josh Einiger reports on how some New Yorkers feel like they got the shaft during the snowstorm
January 23, 2014 3:04:49 AM PST
The winter storm dumped not only snow, but also a swirling controversy as many ask if the man elected mayor of New York City is treating the boroughs equally by plowing some less than others?

Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio admits that parts of Manhattan were not plowed adequately and that more could have been done to clear the Upper East Side.

Many residents were outraged about the amount of snow that remained on streets even into Wednesday night.

"It's disgusting," Upper East Side business owner Michael Gimmelfarb said. "The cleanup effort's been disgusting."

Gimmelfarb lives in a relatively clear Bensonhurst but runs a restaurant at 75th Street and Lexington Avenue. He says when he got to work Wednesday night, he was stunned at what he saw.

"This is where they make money," he said. "It's where New York generates the most income. This is where it needs to be cleaned first."

It was a day of stark contrast between a snow-choked 93rd Street and Third Avenue and a perfectly clear Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

"The deployments of personnel and equipment have been even throughout the city," de Blasio said at a news conference.

But after a day of denials over Upper East Side residents claiming they got the short end of the stick, de Blasio's office tweeted a picture of him outside the 86th Street and Lexington Avenue subway station. Then, the mayor made a full reversal.

"After hearing concerns about street conditions on the Upper East Side, I headed to the area to survey the streets for myself, and to hear from residents directly," de Blasio said in a statement. "While the overall storm response across the city was well-executed, after inspecting the area and listening to concerns from residents earlier today, I determined more could have been done to serve the Upper East Side. I have instructed the Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation to double-down on cleanup efforts on the Upper East Side, and as a result, 30 vehicles and nearly 40 sanitation workers have been deployed to the area to finish the cleanup. Our crews will remain on the streets around the clock until the roadways are clear in every neighborhood, in every borough, across New York City."

The flurry of trucks lasted for about an hour, but by nightfall, they had all but disappeared. The city's website showed the majority of streets were still untouched.

It left longtime Upper East Side residents scratching their heads.

It was perhaps, said one person, an act of political sabotage.

"I'm wondering if somebody planned this to make him look bad," the resident said.

"It is what it is, I think we knew what was coming," another resident said, "I think he made a statement here. He made it very clear that he thought the Upper East Side was taken care of, and he was going to make sure every other borough was taken care of before the Upper East Side."

It was certainly an icy reception for the mayor to match the ice on the streets. Sanitation officials did not comment on where those trucks disappeared to after dark.

In the meantime, there wasn't a lot of sympathy for the UES, at least not on social media.

One woman took to Twitter to tell residents, "It's too bad you'll have to wait like the rest of us always have. Get over it."