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NYC Council blames slow snow removal on sanitation chief

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia is flanked on March

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia is flanked on March 28, 2014, by then-outgoing Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, right, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio at her agency's headquarters. Garcia came under fire on March 16, 2016, by members of the city council for slow snow cleanup in Queens during a blizzard in late January. Credit: Getty Images / Craig Ruttle-Pool

The head of the city sanitation department faced barbed criticism Wednesday over what a Queens lawmaker denounced as too-slow snow removal in the borough after the near-record storm in January.

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, testifying during a City Council hearing on the agency’s budget, said heavier snowfall and narrow streets in Queens posed challenges. But she said she deployed special equipment as soon as she learned more roadways needed plowing.

The blizzard in late January dumped a near-record 26.8 inches on Central Park, but Jackson Heights in Queens got 34 inches.

“I am satisfied with the performance but I always do look to do better,” Garcia said, adding she sent front-end loaders to scoop snow out of Queens streets that a plow couldn’t fit down.

City Council Member Rory Lancman, a Democrat who felt that parts of outer Queens were neglected while Brooklyn and Manhattan were quickly plowed, called the response insufficient.

“Your answers are really not inspiring any confidence,” he told Garcia, predicting the city during the next storm “will forget again that Queens needs to get its snow plowed.”

Garcia also defended the city’s PlowNYC tracking program, which Lancman said incorrectly showed that some Kew Gardens Hills streets were cleared when they weren’t.

“There’s always an error factor in GPS,” Garcia said, explaining the program overall was accurate.

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