From District 1 County Councilman Tom Dernoga:
Happy Valentine's Day! I think.
I am hoping that this will be my last day of snow duty (until tomorrow night) and that we can all get back to normal routines. Based on what I have seen, we are on the home stretch.
Weather Today: Partly to mostly sunny and breezy. 35-40. | Tonight: Mostly clear. Increasing clouds late. Teens to near 20. | Tomorrow: Snow or wintry mix develops. 32-37. (Wash Post)
Today should see the wrap up of the communities that have seen too little action. I have been around to every corner of the District and I will be out later this morning to check out the few remaining places I know of.
Saturday Tour - I will be brief – these posts of mine run on too long.
After getting out the Sat Morning Update (#6), I read and responded to emails for hours, compiled the latest complaints and forwarded a list to DPWT. Then I called to make sure they got it and that they would do something about it. DPWT is great but sometimes they don't see things the way you do, so I have to help … um, "interpret" your concerns.
I hit the road mid-afternoon and checked out my West Laurel neighborhood. While it was made passable reasonably early in the week, remember that "passable" is a relative term and by the end of the week, people are pretty tired of chewed up snow that gets regular vehicles stuck. I toured almost the entire neighborhood and did what I could to prioritize equipment to the main internal arteries. People saw a lot of activity through evening and all night. There is still some more work, but things are a lot better.
I went to Mayfair to make sure that was done – yes! Then I checked out Old Gunpowder Spur andBirkhall/Davron. OK, but not great.
I headed to Calverton which was a major hot spot over night. If you think you had it bad, you have not been to Calverton. They really were at the end of the clean up list – their streets had not been even "passable" in the broadest sense. Boy was I in for a pleasant surprise. They may have been last, but they were best. They got the new shipment of front end loaders and they worked to get their cars off the streets. So, they had virtually wall-to-wall bare pavement. No packed snow/ice and no single lane. There is something to be said for being last, I guess. There was still a few streets to be done, but I spoke with the foreman and with Calverton activist Frank Cockerell to make sure it all got done before the loaders were moved. I spoke with some residents who decided not to boil me in oil now that they saw why we needed the loaders and what the loaders would do.
I went through Beltsville, which also had a lot of issues this week. Many streets had been made "passable" but they really weren't. A Metro Access Van had been stuck on 35th Place on Friday trying to bring a handicapped resident home, and there was another van stuck when I drove up. It was embarrassing. I had some residents give me "what for" (who can blame them), but I dragged a dump truck over there to get on it. I toured the side streets on the south Side of Montgomery Rd – the ones on the steep hill that are hard to get into good condition. They were improved and some were actually good, but it seems like more work is needed.
I ran down Sellman to Sellman Estates which had been deemed "passable" earlier in the week but was now a mess. A front end loader and a plow were making it all good.
I ran by Chestnut Hills so that Karen Coakley wouldn't be writing about me in the next Beltsville News (Smile) and that whole area really needed major work. The plows had been there but again, "passable" a few days ago had deteriorated into a mess. Fortunately, I knew that the plan was for the front end loaders in Calverton and Sellman Estates would be spending the rest of the evening in Chestnut Hills.
I exited Beltsville out Josephine and I was really disappointed that the area around Josephine and Brandon had not been done better than they were. Something to get done on Sunday. I made one more loop around West laurel on my way home and saw that some of the things we asked for were happening. I made one more loop around the neighborhood later in the evening and started to feel good.
I did not get to a few places that I wanted to, so I will be out on late this morning. I did send in requests about areas in Laurel and South Laurel and Vansville, and I called to make sure that they were getting attention. I will check them. I was told that Longwoods and Vansville got treated and I hope so. Also, Briarwood/Chip and Snow Hill Estates.
With any luck, my last Update will be later today after I do my tour and we can call an end to Snowmageddon. I really hope so. The upper-30's temperatures, sunlight and salt should really help today with actual melting.
As always, my staff and I are monitoring phone calls to the office (301) 952-3887 and emails that we receive. We are forwarding concerns directly to the personnel supervising the snow removal teams. I am getting these emails on my Blackberry - your message is being read and dealt with.
Since Saturday, all I have done is SNOW 24-7. It's what is expected and it is what should happen. Things are definitely slower than anyone would like. I don't control the plows or the operations. But, I have a duty to make sure that your problems are addressed and that DPWT knows what you are seeing. I believe that i am obligated to get out in the streets and see the situation first hand. In addition, since DPWT does not have time for neighborhood-level communications, it is also my role to try to tell you what is going on and what to expect. My staff and I are doing our best to keep you informed and to make sure that you get usable streets as soon as possible.
Tom Dernoga, Chair
Prince George's County Council (District 1)