All hands on deck for snow duty
Public works crews earn council praise for post-storm efforts in late December
City employees earned praise from council members last week for its work getting streets cleared after a late December snowstorm.
Streets Manager Shawn Starcher said Canal Winchester currently has nine plow trucks and two brine trucks, all of which were used during the Dec. 26 storm.
"It's truly a group effort when it comes to snow and ice removal," he said. "The city makes every effort to keep our streets clear and passable before, during and after a snow event.
"During significant winter storms, including our recent storm, we utilize all vehicles and a 12-hour emergency work shift is initiated that combines employees from all public works departments," he added.
According to Starcher, Canal Winchester began the year with nearly 500 tons of salt stored from last season, with the option to purchase another 300 tons, if necessary.
"Thus far, the city has only had to purchase 2,000 gallons of brine, at 15 cents a gallon," he said. "During a normal season, we'll use about 8,000 gallons of brine solution. The brine is extremely cost-effective for the results we receive."
During the Jan. 7 city council meeting, Councilman Steve Donahue said residents have asked about the possibility of enacting a law requiring property owners to clear their sidewalks within 48 hours of a snowfall. After some discussion, council opted not to seek such legislation.
"We've discussed sidewalk enforcement and talked about lengths of time for clearing," Public Works Director Matt Peoples said. "Some communities require clearing within 24 hours of a snow event, and enforcement of that is tough.
"It's a courtesy thing and we do have complaints sometimes, but when we have a snow event, particularly like on a holiday or overnight and weekends, we choose not to take care of the sidewalks on overtime hours," he said.
Peoples told council the budget dictates that city staff focus on the streets and, when possible, the bike paths, but not sidewalks on private property.
Starcher said while there is no defined sidewalk snow removal policy, residents are expected to keep their sidewalks clear and property owners are not allowed to place shoveled or plowed snow on streets, sidewalks or bike paths.
"Our city crews do clear snow and ice from the sidewalks and bike paths within city-owned property within a timely manner after a snow event has taken place," Starcher said.
Donahue and Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon said neighbors helping neighbors is how a lot of the sidewalks currently are cleared.
"There are still young people that come around looking for a few bucks to clear off snow, and people with snow blowers seem to help each other out," Donahue said. "But if you look at our community, well these roads get cleared off better than anywhere else I've seen, so I take my hat off Starcher's crew. They do an excellent job."