I woke up last Friday morning and slapped at my snooze alarm to no effect. A harder slap followed without stopping the droning of the news, so I crawled out of the covers and turned off my radio. The radio announcer still didn’t stop, and it took my sleep-addled brain a few moments to realize the voice was coming from outside my house. I raised the blinds to the newest sheet of blinding snow that had fallen on Stratford, and it was there I saw the slow moving police car using the bullhorn to wake up residents before their cars were towed to clear the snow. Even after all the news coverage of the recent snowstorms, many of my neighbors still didn’t know about alternate side of the street parking regulations during snow emergencies. Come to think of it, I didn’t know much about, them, either.
A trip to the Town of Stratford website cleared a few things up (pardon the pun). Because there are approximately 200 miles of town roads in town, residents are asked to cooperate with several regulations to help with the snow clearing process. The most important is where to park: parking is permitted on the odd-numbered side of the street from 8:00 a.m. of the odd-numbered day to 8:00 a.m. the following morning. Parking is permitted on the even-numbered side of the street from 8:00 a.m. of the even-numbered day to 8:00 a.m. the following morning. Beyond the obvious benefit of being able to clear the road completely on one side, it prevents the “showdown” moments when two cars are heading toward each other and trying to determine who has the right of way.
This becomes even more important on side streets because main roads are addressed first (especially those with steep hills and difficult intersections) and leaves side streets and dead-ends open to spontaneous games of chicken as drivers struggle to navigate through cars on both sides of the streets. After the main roads have been cleared, side streets are done next, then dead ends. The Town acknowledges that, “This may not seem fair to residents of side streets or dead ends, but main roads must remain open.” The residents of Stony Brook Gardens Co-op can certainly attest to the frustration of having to wait for the main roads to be cleared.
For those of us armed only with a shovel during an hours-long struggle to remove snow, two interesting tidbits from the website address our worst fears. First, the Department of Public Works doesn’t care how beautifully you’ve shoveled the snow off your driveway; they will plow snow onto it in the course of their routes. They suggest waiting until all crews have finished before starting on your driveway. I’ve learned some interesting new vocabulary words from my neighbors when the plows sloshed a sheet of slush at their feet just when they thought they’d finished. Even if you manage to avoid this, don’t forget that shoveling your driveway is not a civic duty, but your sidewalk is! “Property owners are responsible for removing snow and ice from the sidewalk along their property line within 24 hours after the storm and keeping them clear of snow and ice.”
While ” there are always going to be complaints, the Stratford Star’s own John Kovach outlined some of the hypocrisies involved. He reported Mayor Harkins’ comments that some of the same streets that complained about slow snow removal in the past failed to follow alternate side of the street parking regulations. Alerts are sent through the town’s emergency notification system, its Twitter account, and of course the Stratford Star. More importantly, town policy states that, “these regulations are automatically in effect during any period of ice or snow accumulation. The municipal ordinance prohibits any person who has access to a driveway from parking on the adjoining public street during a snow or ice emergency.”
With this winter shaping up as one of the worst in recent memory, it’s more and more important to pitch in and help the DPW plows help us.