Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Snow plowing policy addresses business concerns

by Lisa Seiser

March 22, 2012

It doesn’t look as if it will be snowing again anytime soon, but that didn’t stop officials from approving an amended policy to deal with snow and ice removal procedures on Lake Geneva streets and sidewalks.

Last month, aldermen unanimously approved section 3.4 of the city’s policies. The 18-page policy focuses on snow and ice control, including classifications of storms and how the city deals with the snowfall.

The additions were mainly made to the procedures of how the city’s Street Department removes snow in the downtown area.

According to the amended policy, there are different options for the street department depending on the amount of snowfall and when the storm starts. There are four options, including one for a storm occurring during normal business hours Sundays through Thursdays; one for a storm during business hours on Fridays, Saturdays or holidays; another for a storm occurring during the late night or early morning hours Sunday through Thursday; and one for a storm occurring during the late night or early morning hours Friday, Saturday or holidays.

The policy states, “Winter storms occur under a multitude of circumstances and each situation needs to be considered and approached a little differently in the downtown area depending upon the weather conditions.”

Storms during normal business hours Sunday through Thursday call for the following action.

“Cars are parked throughout the downtown and the plows may have to push the snow to the backs of parked cars if there isn’t enough room in the center of the roadway or if the snow accumulation isn’t large enough to begin the windrowing procedures. The businesses have 24 hours to push their snow into the street, but should push the snow into the street by late evening.”

The policy states the next day, the snow may be moved to the middle of the road and some parking places are blocked off. As soon as possible, the snow will be removed from the middle of the roadway.

“Every effort is made to keep open as many parking places as possible,” the policy reads.

Storm during the day on a weekend

Because cars are parked throughout the downtown and the plows have limited access due to traffic congestion, the plows will move the snow to the back of the parked cars. During that time, businesses will clear pathways for shoppers and push snow into the street. Early in the morning, the street department will bring the snow to the middle of the road for later removal.

If snow continues, it will be plowed to the middle and left throughout the day, to be removed later.

Storms during late evening

“Cars in the downtown have vacated parking places and the plows may push the snow to the gutter if the snowfall isn’t large enough for windrowing procedure. Businesses have 24 hours to push their snow into the street.” That should be done by day break the next morning.

The next day, the snow may be brought to the center for removal.

“Every effort is made to keep open as many parking spaces as possible,” the policy states.

The policy also reads that if “other methods of handling snow in downtown are ineffective, the Street Department may open up parking spaces by pushing snow into piles at locations as to not obstruct visibility or traffic. These piles will be picked up with front end loader and truck concurrently with opening up parking in the city lots.”

The policy was in place for the last snowstorm of the season and according to City Administrator Dennis Jordan, it worked well. He said the wet and heavy snow was piled up in front of the Geneva Theater before it was removed. He said that had the least impact on the downtown parking.

“I didn’t hear any complaints,” Jordan said. Jordan said the Street Department does a good job removing snow and the superintendent will continue to use his discretion to make decisions to best handle each storm.

The issues regarding the timing of storms came to light following some concerns voiced by downtown business owners in late January. A few inches of snow fell starting Friday, Jan. 20, and the snow removal efforts by the city of Lake Geneva’s street department left much to be desired, according to downtown business owners.

Apparently the plowed piles of snow were left along the curb too long, leaving customers on Saturday trudging through knee-high snow to get to the sidewalk and to the downtown merchant’s businesses.

However, Street Department employees said they plowed the same way they normally do and that they did their best to remove the snow as quickly as possible.

On Jan. 30, some city officials, city street department employees and a pair of downtown business owners gathered for about 45 minutes at City Hall to talk about possible changes to the snow removal process that would improve the downtown area. The policy changes approved were a result of that meeting.