TROY, N.Y. — Weathering the Collar City's first major snowstorm since he took office in 2016, Mayor Patrick Madden on Thursday opted against declaring a "snow emergency," the city's plan for clearing narrow streets of snow and ice.
The snow emergency, common to Capital Region communities, requires drivers who park on city streets to move their cars away from one side of the street overnight, so that plow crews can clear the street to the curb. Drivers must then move to the opposite side, usually the next day, so that the entire street can be plowed. Drivers who refuse to move or cannot move their vehicles for whatever reason, are often towed at their own expense.
Troy's current snow emergency plan was created in 2014, and has only been used once since then due to mild winters.
Thursday, the city of Albany declared such an emergency, as did Saratoga Springs, Green Island, Rensselaer, Waterford and Rotterdam. At 3:45 p.m., the Troy mayor's office advised Time Warner Cable News that the city did not plan to declare a snow emergency. In an interview at city hall before making the decision, Madden said he intended to be overly cautious with the declaration, so as not to inconvenience drivers.
"We get feedback from crews out on the street that are plowing," Madden said. "We don't want to be in a situation where we're looking to tow cars, so we'll use [the declaration] sparingly."
Throughout Troy on Thursday, drivers and apartment dwellers could be seen digging out their sidewalks and vehicles, as the city received five inches of snow by noon and more in the early afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Albany.
Residents on 4th Street, one of the streets that would have benefitted from the snow emergency, said they wished the mayor would declare one.
"Years ago, they used to clear a parking lot by the old market, and they'd say, 'Everyone park there while we clear your street,' " said one resident. "They don't do that no more."
"You have the snow piled up when you leave [after shoveling], and then you come back and the snow's still there," said Mike Zaborowski, a neighbor. "It's hard to park the car. Do a real-clean-sweep one side and the other, it makes sense.
"But then where do I put my car? Nobody knows where to park [in a snow emergency]," Zaborowski said.
Madden's decision ensured no cars would be towed because of the weather, a welcome relief for South Troy resident Keith Goodlett, whose SUV is broken down outside his home.
"Everybody's pockets are not deep," Goodlett said, recalling that he'd been towed during the previous snow emergency, costing several hundred dollars. Troy's written policy lists a total fine of $250 for snow emergency towing.
Madden said Thursday that 2017 budget concerns in Troy did not affect his decision, nor did they hurt snow removal efforts. Madden said his crews began work around 4 a.m. to clear city streets, and made sure that each street got at least one pass.
Madden had also planned to personally survey city streets for himself on Thursday before making the eventual decision.
"It's the way I've always operated," he said. "I think you make better decisions when you see things for yourself."
Any future snow emergencies in Troy will be posted on city social media accounts and sent to local news outlets for publication at least eight hours before the order takes effect, Madden said.