Cellphone video obtained by NBC 4 New York's I-Team shows a Bobcat construction vehicle picking up mounds of snow in front of Lincoln Center, only to dump the slushy gray piles directly onto Columbus Avenue early Friday morning.
At one point, the vehicle carries the dirty snow northbound against traffic only to deposit it in the center of the thoroughfare. At another, the driver dumps a trail of snow on the avenue seconds before a pedestrian has to walk over it.
The video was captured by an employee of NBC 4 New York who happened to witness the snow-dumping from a high-rise apartment window.
A Lincoln Center spokeswoman confirmed that the driver of the Bobcat was an employee of the performance hall. But in a statement emailed to NBC 4 New York, the spokeswoman suggested the driver’s actions were consistent with New York City snow removal rules.
"Lincoln Center works closely with the City of New York Department of Sanitation and within applicable laws and regulations to handle snow removal safely and efficiently," said Eileen McMahon, senior director of publicity and publications for the arts complex.
But Belinda Mager, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Sanitation said the Bobcat driver could have been issued a violation for dumping snow onto an avenue that was sometimes crowded with traffic.
"We do not want the public putting snow back into the street, possibly creating hazardous conditions," said Mager. "Activities such as the ones shown in the video could result in a violation for 'Interfering with Sanitation Department Work.'"
In late January, just before one of this winter’s biggest snowstorms, Mayor Bill de Blasio asked residents to avoid shoveling snow into the street.
"It's a huge mistake given the amount of snow we're going to have to put the snow back in the streets," de Blasio said at a news conference detailing the city’s snowstorm response.
"I think it’s a double standard," said pedestrian Renee Rodgers. "You can’t have residents do one thing and then have other people do the other. Everyone has the same rules and guidelines to follow."
But while some find dumping snow in the street an unnecessary hazard, others see it as an efficient way of expediting the melting process.
Michelle Palmer, a longtime neighbor of Lincoln Center, said she sees similar snow dumping in previous winters.
"It's not like the first time I've seen anything like that before. I mean, I think that's kind of the common practice when it starts getting warm if you want it to dissipate quicker," Palmer said.
Between Jan. 1st and Feb. 22nd of this year, the sanitation department issued 301 violations for interfering with department work. Mager said Lincoln Center would not be issued a violation in this case because no sanitation employee witnessed the snow dumping.