Tags: Staff Editorial
February 08, 2012 | 07:40 AMIt's February and there's no snow on the ground. There are no piles of snow in parking lots or along the curbs, either.
But, a few weeks ago the area was hit with a few inches and that had some business owners fired up about the city's snow removal process in the downtown. Their beef was on Saturday, Jan. 21, when some of their customers complained that they had to climb over a pile of snow at the curb to get from their car to the sidewalk.
Let's take a closer look.
It was Friday, Jan. 20, and the snow started falling in the morning. It continued to fall through the afternoon, enough to even lead some areas schools to let kids out early and cancelled sporting events for that evening.
The roads were slick that afternoon and evening, but that didn't stop people from their usual shopping and going out to dinner or for drinks in downtown Lake Geneva.
And while the snow is the culprit, so are these activities.
Think about it, with cars parked in the stalls until after 2 a.m., nothing can be done to remove the snow downtown until those vehicles are gone. So, the plows start working that area at about 3 a.m.
We've been told that if there's less than 6 inches of snow, it is plowed to the curb. If there is more, the snow in downtown is plowed to the center of the road. This Jan. 20, snow was plowed to the curb with the intent that Saturday morning, retail shop owners would shovel their sidewalks, scoop all the sidewalk snow to the curb where city's plows had left snow from the parking areas.
The way I understand it, once the snow is pushed to the curb, the city's Street Department trucks suck it all up and remove it. To me, it sounds like a good plan. That is, except when the snow falls at an inconvenient time.
What happened was the store owners did exactly as they were asked when they reached their businesses Saturday in the morning, probably mostly between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The snow was pushed off the sidewalks and to the curb, but shoppers are parking their cars in the angle stalls downtown as the snow is piled up along the curb.
There are cars parked downtown until the restaurants and bars close at 2 a.m. When all the cars are gone, the plows are finally able to drive down the parking lane and clear the snow. The snow was cleared early Sunday morning.
What this all means is visitors in downtown on that Saturday probably had to climb over some piles of snow. According to a business owner who attended a city meeting on Jan. 30 to talk about how to improve these snow removal procedures, many of her customers complained and asked about why there was a lot of snow at the curb. She even said one customer came in his gym shoes and his feet were all wet when he got to her store.
This may sound nasty, but was that person stupid? We are in Wisconsin, it just snowed the previous day. Does it make sense to walk around in gym shoes and not expect to get wet feet? And then for that customer and others to complain about snow on the ground hours after several inches fell. Come on people.
I certainly will not say snow removal anywhere is perfect. I believe the city does a pretty good job at plowing and removing the snow. The city should reconsider its sand/salt mixture ordinance, which regulates salt usage to about 20 percent. That is happening while municipalities around Geneva Lake continue to pour pure salt all over their roads every time it snows.
Also, there are always improvements that can be made to plowing and overall removal of the snow.
But this situation from a few weeks ago is one of the silliest complaints I have ever heard.
I have climbed over piles of snow at the curb and honestly can't think of a time in which I wondered 'why are these piles still here' or even considered complaining about them.
I know this is Wisconsin, and no matter how mild the winter has been, snow is inevitable. That means you may have to maneuver around a bit and just deal with it.
How about wearing boots? Just a suggestion.
Seiser is the editor of the Regional News.