MANCHESTER — The casualties of this past weekend's snowplowing are still easy to find in a south Manchester neighborhood.
City officials say as many as 30 roadside mailboxes in the Rosecliff neighborhood were damaged during plowing that followed this weekend's snowstorm, the first significant snowfall of the season. The boxes can be seen on a drive through the neighborhood, which is located off Bodwell Road.One has been strapped back to the post with bungee cords. Some are sitting on a platform vertically, still capable of receiving mail. Others remain on the ground, where they ended up after being struck by a plow Sunday.
"Once in awhile, you see one (damaged) here or there, but nothing like this," said Stonington Road resident Richard Bennett on Wednesday as he cleared out snow around his mailbox.Officials attributed the damage to a veteran city Highway Department driver who was inexperienced with the kind of plow he was driving, as well as the neighborhood.
"The first storm of the year is always difficult because there's no snowbank," said Kevin Sheppard, city director of public works. To make matters worse, the neighborhood lacks granite curbing, which a plow driver can use to feel his way down a street, he said.
On Wednesday, the Highway Department sent a crew to the neighborhood to begin repairing boxes. The crew refused to have its photo taken and jumped in a truck and took off when a photographer approached them.
Mayor Ted Gatsas said he was told that 20 to 30 mailboxes were damaged. He said he'll leave it up to Sheppard to decide if the snowplow driver should face any consequences.
Bennett's box was damaged, despite the three reflectors he installed beside it. He his mailbox should last until spring, when the city said it will replace the damaged post.
He reset the horizontal mailbox platfrom with a couple of nails and used bungee cords to strap everything down. Bennett said a plow initially hit the post Sunday morning. The driver stopped, wrote down the address and spoke to Bennett. The initial hit did little damage, he said.
Then Sunday night, a plow ripped the mailbox off the post, and the newspaper tube was bent 90 degrees.
Bennett said the driver stopped then kept going. As he went down the street, he kept stopping and then going forward, Bennett said.
"I think he was realizing he was hitting them," he said.City policy says the city will send a letter to the owners of damaged boxes notifying them: "Mailboxes and posts will be replaced with a standard mailbox/post or one that is readily available locally, within reason," the policy reads. Special order and custom mailboxes will be replaced with a standard mailbox.