Every town in southeast Minnesota is facing a budget crunch this year that could not have been planned for. Snow removal. Every town budgets for it but this winter those budgeted hours are being pushed to the limits.
And where to put the snow?
In Byron, City Administrator Mary Blair-Hoeft said city staff members worked 96 hours over the weekend of Feb. 23 when the blizzard hit. And city workers haven’t stopped since.
Public Works Superintendent Tom Ricke explained that even after the initial plowing was done, the drivers never stopped working except to eat and sleep.
Now they must clear the snow piles in the middle of streets and widen the many residential streets that become narrower with each snow event. However, he explained, the cost for hauling the snow away from all residential streets would cost about $72,000 in equipment, labor and fuel costs. Therefore, only the most heavily traveled streets will be widened. Ricke explained that ‘no parking’ signs will be posted before that work is started on each street.
Another issue is the clearing of sidewalks that are used by students to get to school. The school district and the city are working together to determine which sidewalks should be kept clear for students’ use and which can be used for snow storage.
It is also necessary for homeowners to clean out the snow in front of their mailboxes so mail can be delivered
According to the U.S. Postal Service website, ideally, “If you have a mailbox at the road, keep it clear of packed snow. Clearing the mailbox allows your letter carrier to deliver mail safely and without delay. This will permit the carrier to drive up to your mailbox and deposit or collect mail without leaving the vehicle. The approach to and exit from the mailbox should be cleared sufficiently on both sides to allow the carrier to drive ahead and not be required to back up after delivery.”
That is not something the city does although sometimes mailbox approaches are cleared in a lucky pass of the plow. Conversely, if the city plow directly causes damage to a mailbox, the homeowner should notify the city.
Homeowners should also clear away the snow for three feet around the fire hydrant nearest to their home. Byron Neighbors Helping Neighbors can help with this task if everyone near the hydrant qualifies for the assistance.
And what will happen when it all starts to melt?
“We must be able to get to the street drains and they have to be clear when the water starts to flow,” Ricke explained.
In other Byron news, city council members met in a workshop on Feb. 26 to discuss possible changes to the parking ordinance. Residents on Seventh Street NW have been plagued in the past by spectators parking on their street and then walking through private yards up to the Middle School playing fields.
In 2008, the city posted signs that read, “No Parking to Access School Property.”
In the more recent past, residents from other neighborhoods asked city council members why that particular street should get such special treatment as there are other streets in the city that are adjacent to ball fields and spectators park on those streets during games.
And, it is difficult to enforce the ordinance because law enforcement officials cannot know what cars are parked on the street for other reasons.
The option of issuing parking permits for residents of that street was also discussed.
At 6 p.m. March 12, the city council will hold a public meeting to hear comments from local residents about the ordinance.