While some were praising the City of Boston’s efforts to remove snow from city streets, residents here were singing a different tune to Mayor Thomas Menino’s Snow Removal Strike Force.
On Monday nigh at 7 p.m., a section of Saratoga Street from Curtis Street to Orient Heights Square turned into pandemonium as Boston Police with bullhorns began warning residents that they had to move their cars or be ticketed and towed.
In a panic, residents flooded the street to seek answers from police.
“I’ve lived here for 55 years and this section of Saratoga Street has never been subjected to a snow removal parking ban,” said one angry resident. “Where are we supposed to park our cars?”
Residents became verbally upset with some handing tickets back to police. Others, like Barbara Puppolo posted comments on LaMattina’s Facebook page alerting him to the situation.
“We received no warning,” she said. “They just started coming by and tagging cars.”
Turns out the police had the wrong section of Saratoga Street and were supposed to be tagging and towing cars along Saratoga from Orient Heights Square to the Winthrop Bridge. This section of Saratoga is subjected to the city’s snowstorm parking ban.
However, for hundreds of residents it was already too late.
“I moved my car and about 80 percent of the people on the street did the same,” said Puppolo. “If people wake up tomorrow and see none of this snow has been removed they are going to be very upset.”
The problems did not end on Saratoga Street.
At 1 a.m. on Sumner Street a single police car with a bullhorn led an army of tow trucks up the street. Again police were warning residents to move their cars or be ticketed and towed. Again residents were given no warning of the city operation.
“Residents on Sumner Street were awoken to the sound of a loud speaker to move our cars or get towed,” Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association Board member Renee Scalfani posted on Facebook.
Scalfani said while crews were removing snow piles what really angered resident was the lack of communication by the city and the time they decide to conduct the snow removal operation.
“There was a community meeting tonight (Monday) with City people and A7 (District 7 officers) and there was no mention of this,” said Scalfani. “There is a huge lack of communication. My neighbors are so angry to be bothered when they have to get up in a few hours for work.”
While Mayor Thomas Menino’s press office was sending out press releases Monday to local papers alerting them to photo opportunities to catch the Snow Removal Strike Force teams in action, they were tight lipped when the operation went horribly wrong like here in Eastie.
“Please call police for comment on police operations,” said Menino’s press secretary Dot Joyce when asked of the operations Monday night in Eastie. “I’m sure it was a mistake and if so tickets will be rescinded”
Scalfani said residents in Jeffries Point were told to do the same.
“I called the Mayors office and was transferred to A7 (East Boston Police Station),” she said. “I think people need to work together better when it comes to decisions like this because a 1 a.m. wake up call to move your car is crazy.”
District 7 Captain Kelley McCormick said he voided all tickets that were issued on Saratoga Street out Monday night personally. As for the issues on Sumner Street, police decided to simply tow cars out of the way of plows and then place them back on the street.
“We want to thank the residents for their patiences during this snow emergency,” said McCormick. We are working to get East Boston back to normal.”
Menino’s Snow Removal Strike Force was created in response to hundreds of complaints from residents in Eastie and across the city concerning Boston’s cleanup efforts following Blizzard Nemo.
In Eastie, streets in Eagle Hill were still buried in snow as late as Sunday evening. Lexington Street, a two-way main street in the hill was down to barely one lane and streets like Havre, where Representative Carlo Basile’s mother lives, were not even plowed until 8 p.m. Sunday.
“It was a mess,” said Basile.
However, despite the inconvenience of hundreds of Eastie residents Monday night and Tuesday morning, LaMattina said the city did its best given the tough circumstances of the storm.
“This was a major storm and three days later the city was up and running,” said LaMattina.