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Snow Removal Concerns Heard By City Council

By Staff | Dec 16, 2010

“I received several complaints today about our snow removal in the business district,” City Administrator John Bird told members of Emmetsburg City Council Monday night. “Merchants are upset about the way the snow gets rolled to the curbline or the parking lane and stays there for one day. It’s normally removed the second evening. They’re complaining about the fact that their patrons don’t have anywhere to park. It is a problem.”

Bird told the council that he had visited with the Spencer Public Properties Director. Emmetsburg Public Properties Director Bill Dickey also visited with the Spencer official.

In Spencer, the state plows windrow the snow into the center of the highway, Bird reported to the council. He noted that the gentleman with whom he visited said this may be the only city where the state DOT?does windrow snow to the center of a U.S. Highway.

“Bill and I are continuing to look into this,” said Bird. “There’s a lot of problems either way. This snow remained along the curbline one day longer than it usually does just because of the way the storm raged and the wind blew.”

Bird told the council that business owners had suggested that the city hire contract workers to come in and focus on the downtown area while the city crews clean all the residential streets. The problem Bird sees is that all of the equipment is going, so there is more expense than hiring more people. It would also involve buying more equipment.

“The trouble with hiring a contractor, is they’re all busy hauling snow too,” said Councilman Brian Campbell.

Bill Dickey presented information about the money that Spencer spends to bring in independent contractors and their equipment.

“They bring in two graders, two loaders and they hire out contractor trucks,” Dickey told the council. “The one truck they have is 52 yards. That’s a bigger size than all of our trucks together. It was $825 last night to haul for that one truck and they had 13 trucks hauled.”

“Just in the downtown area?”?questioned Mayor John Schad.

“Just to haul the downtown,” Dickey stated. “That’s not plowing. That’s not anything. That community spends a lot of money on hauling their downtown snow. We don’t have that kind of finances.”

“Not to diminish the complaints we received because these people are concerned about getting customers into their businesses when there’s no place to park, but I don’t know what else we can do other than hire more folks,” said Bird. “When you ask for a solution they don’t have one. We go through this pretty much every year, especially with the first big snowfall. We take a lot of complaints about it.”

Mayor Schad suggested creating a three-foot space on every block where people could get through.

“I think that would make a big difference,” he said.

Discussion about snow being windrowed to the center of the street brought out additional concerns, including opening up intersections.

“Part of it is the reality that we live in Iowa and we have snow in the winter time, and it takes time to move it,” said Campbell.

“I did tell these folks that?I’d bring it to your attention,” said Bird. “I took the complaints and Bill and I will continue to look into possible options.”

The state moves snow only from the traveled portion of the highway and the city must remove snow from the parking area.