Posted January 28, 2011 by Sarah-Ann Harnick 

Greetings from Snowy New Jersey

Make that very snowy. I grew up with snow, learned to drive in snow (with teachers who believed that if you needed snow tires you shouldn't be driving in the snow), and went to college in snow. All of that was more than 30 years ago.

Aside from long weekends in Vermont visiting friends, I haven't lived in snow since the mid-70s. A major snow storm shuts down New Jersey for a day, and the snow usually disappears within 5 days. I had forgotten what living in snow was like and now realize the absence of snow on the ground for weeks at a time has changed the way New Jersey thinks.

I work in Jersey City, which is home to about 240,000 people. Over the past 20 years, industrial sites and old wharves have been turned into upscale condo developments. Sometimes there is enough parking on the properties, but not always.

Street parking had been a little challenging for a while and worsened when small single-family homes became small two- and three-family homes. In the New Jersey City University neighborhood, if your car doesn't show a parking pass, it will be booted, and you will owe at least $300 to the city. The neighbors want to make sure they can park on their block when they get home from work.

More parked vehicles mean fewer open spaces to pile up the snow. Cities were designed for people who didn't own cars. No one thought about "infrastructure issues" as they were selling property and offering tax abatements to developers.

The 'burbs aren't faring any better. If you keep selling forest and farmland to residential developers, you keep adding more streets to plow and reducing the areas where you can put all that snow (which may contain chemicals, so you can't dump it just anywhere).

New Jersey just keeps selling land, requiring drainage plans and flood projections, but no thought about the frozen version of rain. Or about removing the snow that covers the storm drains that the government required.

Any time you want to discuss the importance of critical thinking, just let me know. I'll be outside moving snow around so the snow banks won't block my view of the street.

Sarah-Ann Harnick

Sarah-Ann Harnick is the Assistant Director- Campus Life at New Jersey City University.

Sarah Harnick became active in ACUI with her first job in student activities of Rider then-College. After earning her master’s in fine arts from the University of Texas, she relocated to New Jersey and just never left the state. Intrigued by how things work, she accepted an operations position at New Jersey City now-University where she has learned more about elevators, revolving doors, and roof leaks than most people should ever know. The real reason she has stayed in this field is the pure joy of watching students learn and grow.


Note: To post a comment to The Commons, you must login to the ACUI website.
about the commons
The Commons is the online hub to discover new ideas and learn what is going on in the college union and student activities profession.
more ...
about the contributors

Meet the ACUI members who have volunteered to share their knowledge and insights as regular authors in The Commons.

more ...