Residents outraged by the city’s poor handling of the Dec. 26 blizzard that left parts of Southern Brooklyn buried will have a chance to vent their frustrations next week — but the representatives of the agency responsible for wielding the shovels and driving the snowplows is skipping the gripefest.
Instead of members of the Department of Sanitation, the city is sending a team of community affairs officials to handle complaints — a move that some say will turn the hearing at Marine Park Junior High School on Wednesday into a dog-and-pony show.
“This is an act of disrespect to the outer boroughs, most of which were ignored during the blizzard,” Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) told reporters — a statement that Councilman Lew Fidler readily agreed with.
“It’s the height of arrogance for the city administration to announce that they were sorry for letting us down and then stop participating from hearing the people they inconvenienced,” said Fidler (D–Marine Park), who added that Community Affairs representatives won’t be able to answer pivotal questions such as what local sanitation employees were telling their supervisors, what kind of equipment was requested to handle the snowstorm and how long it took for them to get a response.
“I think that [the city] is afraid to let the local sanitation superintendents tell the truth,” Fidler said.
When the public hearing kicks off on Jan. 26 — a month to the day the storm blanketed the city — it’s believed that many will be raising pitchforks over how the city handled its aftermath.
When the last flake fell, Marine Park and surrounding neighborhoods were left buried under two feet of snow — some of which covered unplowed streets for days.
Residents relied on each other to not only dig out their driveways and sidewalks, but their streets so they could buy groceries and get to work.
The city ultimately dug out the neighborhood, but not before Mayor Bloomberg went on an apology tour through the area, including a trip to Fillmore Street, where he brought cheesecake to resident Leah Posy and those who helped dig out elderly neighbor Mary Lyons.
With Borough President Markowitz at his side, Bloomberg admitted that city administrators underestimated the holiday snowstorm and congratulated residents for taking care of each other.
“If not for their thoughtfulness, Mary Lyons may have been left stranded for days,” Bloomberg said.
Promising to learn from his mistakes, Bloomberg made sure that a public hearing about the city’s snowstorm response would be held in every borough so the affected communities can weigh in on everything that went wrong and the few things that went right.
Brooklyn’s public hearing was scheduled to take place in Borough Hall on Jan. 19, but a second public hearing was slated for Jan. 26 for residents of Southern Brooklyn who can’t make it Downtown.
City officials said community affairs officials would be better suited to field complaints than the Department of Sanitation, as well as outline the mayor’s 15-point plan on improving the city’s snow response.
City public hearing on the Dec. 26 blizzard at Marine Park Intermediate School, IS 278 [1925 Stuart Street at Fillmore Avenue in Marine Park, (718) 375-3523] on Jan. 26 at 6 pm.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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