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First blizzard after debate over plowing private roads. So?…

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | A Riverhead Town snow plow in Jamesport.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | A Riverhead Town snow plow in Jamesport.

So how did those private roads that Riverhead Town has been plowing in the past fare with this week’s 20-inch monster snow storm?

“I guess we took care of them,” Highway Superintendent George Woodson said in an interview around 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. “We did the ones that were on the list. The ones that didn’t ask to be taken off the list. And if we didn’t get to them, we’ll get to them tomorrow.”

Mr. Woodson said that his crew had been plowing since Monday morning — save for a three-hour rest overnight — and needed rest.

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Last fall, Mr. Woodson sent a letter to residents of private roads in the town saying that under state law, it is illegal for the town to plow private roads, despite the fact that Riverhead Town has been plowing snow on many private roads for years. The result was an outcry from many residents of streets that have been plowed in the past.

The Town Board in December held a public hearing on a proposal to create a list of roads that have been plowed by the town for at least 10 years and those roads would to continue to be plowed, but in exchange, they wouldn’t be allowed to have private road signs.

Residents of some of those streets later sent the town letters saying they no longer wanted to have their streets plowed, and would rather keep the roads private. The Town Board has yet to finalize the list of which roads to continue plowing, agreeing most recently to plow all private roads only when snow emergencies are called (one was called this week).

The Oak Hills Association in Baiting Hollow was one of the more vocal groups in opposing the town’s proposal to stop plowing snow on private roads. One resident said Tuesday that the main thoroughfare had been plowed, though no side roads had.

“What they’ve told us is that the private roads and developments will be last on the list to get plowed, and they always have been. They can say what they want, but we’ve always been plowed expeditiously,” Oak Hills resident Robin Griffin said.

John Peck, who lives on Campground Road in Jamesport, said his road wasn’t touched Tuesday.

“We have a private road but the town is not plowing it,” he said. “They’ve always plowed our road, up until today. They’ve never not plowed it that I can remember. We don’t expect any help from the town. I think they just bailed out on us completely.”