This is an update to a story published on Dec. 30, 2010: The Mystery of Lafayette Avenue: Snow Removal Queries Go Unresolved in New Rochelle’s West End. That story has been updated to include this new information.
Talk of the Sound was contacted by one of the DPW employees working at 26 Lafayette Avenue. This employee says the lot was already done before the DPW crew arrived. In recounting the sequence of events from their perspective, the employee says he was told by Joe Controneo to go to Fifth and Lafayette to get two piles of snow. Once this work was completed, he left Lafayette Avenue and did other things around the City. Joe Controneo then told him “you gotta do the parking lot at Fifth and Lafayette”. He responded by tell Controneo he was just there and there was no parking lot at Fifth and Lafayette (which is true). Controneo came to the scene and directed the men to do work at 26 Lafayette Avenue where there was a pile of snow in front of the driveway entrance to the parking lot. The snow was cleared from the area on the street in front of the parking lot and the front edge of the lot including a “back cut” to remove snow from the sidewalk. There was some snow still in the front edge of the parking lot which was scooped up by a DPW front-end loader. In attempting to back out of the driveway, the front-end loader encountered a car on Lafayette. Rather than wait for the card to pass, the front-end loader was driven forward, through the parking lot, and snow dumped on top of an existing pile of snow that had been pushed up towards the back of the parking lot.
As there is some concern that this story somehow reflects on the DPW workers, Talk of the Sound would like to be clear that workers are obligated to follow orders and do not independently make decisions on where to work including where to remove snow. In fact, DPW workers have gotten in trouble for filling potholes not on their list, potholes they encountered driving through the City on their way to fill in other potholes. The question is who gave the orders and by all accounts the orders were given by Joe Controneo. What remains to be determined is why he gave orders to clear snow at 26 Lafayette Avenue — on his own initiative, on orders from his supervisors, at the request of a private citizen or some other source. This workers account does not clarify that question. It does, however, confirm, that the DPW was operating a vehicle on private property which carries it with some of the legal risks described above.