MONTE VISTA— A recent topic of intense discussion in the community continued on Thursday, Feb. 7 at the Monte Vista City Council meeting. After the Valley received heavier snowfall than what had been experienced during a prolonged drought the attention fell on to what the city’s snow removal policy was and how it could best serve its citizens.
After hearing some concerns from citizens Public Works Director Rob Vance has been working diligently to address them and improve snow removal services. To accomplish this Vance recently held two public forums to discuss the topic which were held on Wednesday, Jan. 23 and Wednesday, Jan. 30. The first meeting hosted approximately 25 participants and the second around 20.
“There was a lot of good discussion at both meetings. The public that did come offered really good ideas, suggestions and insights on snow removal,” said Vance.
The attendees were asked very specific questions to seek their input. One of the most debated topics was whether the city should plow the snow to the sides of the curb or to the center of the road. Tallies that were taken at both meetings hinted at a community preference that snow be moved to the center of the road and then hauled away.
The second heavy topic was at what point residential streets should start to be plowed. The current policy is when it reaches six inches, and there was discussion about starting at three inches. “Quite a few citizens really thought that the best thing to do would be to monitor each and every snow storm and determine then…”said Vance.
Vance said that a big part of the conversation with citizens was what needed to be improved. He stated that many citizens were concerned with the drainage system. “The system is small and undersized,” said Vance. This causes some issues when ice and snow melts. Citizens also commented that plowing to the curb decreased walkability within the city and that in areas where it is plowed to the center a lot of times the crosswalk is not accessible. Church areas with high elderly populations were said to be a problem issue with churchgoers feeling unsafe. “That’s something in any policy that I think we need to start looking into,” he said.
A program to help the elderly and those who are unable to clear their driveways and sidewalks was also brought up at the meetings. “Some ideas that came from that was to perhaps create a list of available contractors for those that have the funds...and then we can keep a list of those people who may need more assistance such as those who are on meals on wheels or on oxygen and we can provide better help,” stated Vance.
Vance then began to address the questions and give some suggestions and state concerns he had. “Citizens across the board seem to prefer that we plow to the center. My staff and I and emergency services feel that this is going to create some safety issues. I’m not ready to make that recommendation,” said Vance.
He also addressed that regardless of which way snow is ultimately plowed in heavy snowstorms the city will have to haul the snow away. This would increase costs on the city. “Almost every person said they were willing to pay approximately $2/month for nothing but snow removal.” There were several pros to plowing to the center mentioned such as not as much ice, citizens not having to plow more than their fair share of snow and increasing accessibility.
Vance then read some letters from community organizations and emergency services commenting on the debate between the center and the curb. The Monte Vista Fire Department sent a letter stating that plowing to the center could cause an issue with their large trucks where they may have difficulty getting to an emergency situation. Citizens at the city council meeting also continued to offer comments on the policy and any potential revisions. The community still seems to prefer a snow plow policy that moves snow to the center of the road believing the benefit far outweighs any risks.
The city will continue to discuss the issue throughout 2019. Citizens will continue to be able to offer their input in the near future. A policy revision may be adopted later in the year to be put into action in 2020.