Citizens express concerns about snow removal
Following record-breaking snowfall last winter, Kemmerer citizens are concerned about snow removal and have given the city mixed reviews about its snow policy.
The Kemmerer City Council held a special session on Wednesday, Jan. 24, for public input and discussion.
Kemmerer City Administrator Brian Muir thanked participants and acknowledged the Public Works Department for its efforts in removing snow. Noting the challenges they face, Muir introduced Public Works Director Chad Nielson, who discussed their objectives with snow removal.
Nielson said their top priority is the emergency routes, followed by school bus routes, which they aim to have cleared by 7 a.m., starting at five in the morning.
“Snow in Kemmerer is not easy,” Nielson said.
Adapting to mother nature in Kemmerer involves dealing with wind. Pointing to the Rolling Hills area on a map, Nielson said it gets targeted by a west wind that can cover the road with snow right after the plow has gone through. Calling attention to Dell Rio Road, Nielson said it’s one of the worst areas and, with enough snow and wind, they are not able to plow it.
Despite the difficult weather conditions in those areas, they are also what Nielson said is a “primary area” for snow removal. According to city code, a primary road connects major destinations such as a commercial district, schools, and government buildings and are designated as higher priority.
As Nielson went through neighborhood maps explaining snow removal priorities, a participant said she felt it was a waste of time to look at bus routes and instead said she wanted to know why it was taking weeks to have a berm removed by her house, which is on a secondary street.
A secondary road serves lower traffic areas, including residential areas, or serves as the only access point for a neighborhood.
Nielson said it is policy to cover primary streets first and, if time allows, to clear secondary streets next.
Councilmember Jamie Thornock said, “We should be grateful we have this service because there are towns in Wyoming that don’t. We need to come up with suggestions and not bash.”
Council member Bill Price said, “I want to make sure everybody here has a chance to speak,” encouraging others to do so.
Muir reminded people that the meeting was to be informative and to get input and there would be another council meeting about snow removal to focus on policy changes.
As the microphone got passed around the room, members of the audience had an opportunity to speak. Kemmerer resident Alice Palkow said she thought that businesses in the Triangle should continue to be responsible for their own snow removal on their sidewalk, and the city should not have to pay for that. She also suggested getting a plan in place for elderly people who live alone and give them assistance.
Others voiced concerns, saying the large city-operated dump trucks that collect snow are not following traffic laws and there was mention of a truck running through a stop sign in town. Resident Scott Miller said a one-ton truck can be even more efficient than the bigger dump trucks in certain parts of town.
Resident Connie McMillan asked for an explanation on the snow berm policy and said she must put her garbage can in the middle of the driveway because of 4-foot-tall berms in the street.
According to city policy, snow berms will be piled and maintained until conditions call for removal. Generally, below 3rd West (the lower part of town), snow is pushed to the sides by one pass and then pushed back tight into a berm. The policy asks that all residents remove snow out to the berm and make sure to pack snow tight so traffic can pass safely. It also states that residents can only push snow into the street if it’s from their driveway.
People living on the lower end of town voiced that they deserve to have more attention, to which Nielson responded by saying they are headed there as quickly as possible, but it is a secondary route and not top priority.
As the January thaw turns snow to ice, some participants voiced concerns with the Public Works staff working long hours and battling fatigue.
“Public Works is understaffed, under budgeted and limited with resources,” Shane Stoddard said.
Price thanked people for attending the meeting. He encouraged people to give input and contact council members about their concerns.
“We work for you. Keep the pressure on us,” he said.
The full Kemmerer snow removal policy is available at www.kemmerer.org.