Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Council discusses snow removal

 


The Kimball City Council considered residents’ complaints about snow removal as well as designating emergency snow routes following recent winter storms.

“Every year whenever we have snow we start fielding calls from residents, concerns and complaints about the condition of the roads,” Ortiz said. “This last month we had our fair share.”

Ortiz added that some of the complaints were due to the wind rows of snow in the center of the street, which could not be cleared until the snow blower was repaired.

“Part of the challenge we had this past snow storm was the fact that the snow blower was out of commission for a good amount of days we had available for clean-up,” Ortiz added.

Though the snow blower was repaired, it took longer to fix than anticipated – 10 days, according to Ortiz. Until then crews moved the snow using loaders and dump trucks.

Many of the complaints that the city receives refer to smaller roads that are difficult for equipment to work on, particularly the narrow streets in the Sunnyview addition of Kimball.

“They are just too narrow to take some of our dump trucks down and be able to maneuver and manage the snow effectively without running the risk of damaging some vehicles or worse,” Ortiz said.

Council considered emergency snow routes at their recent meeting as well as snow removal policies.

“Every year we look back at our snow routes and policies and we realized council has not looked at this since 2006, so we thought it would be worthwhile to just bring this back to you for review and any changes you think might be needed,” Ortiz said.

Though there are no official emergency snow routes on file, primary routes for snow removal begin with Highways 30 and 71, according to Street Superintendent Jim Shoup, after which crews move on to the business district, emergency districts, schools and major arterial roads such as Sixth and Oak Streets and the truck route.

“Our main priority is to get the highways open. So we go from the water tower to the bypass and then from the cemetery to the Finer Motel,” Shoup said. “Then we go downtown so the businesses can open and then we go to the hospital. We try to have a driving lane on every street before the day is over.”

Oftentimes the street department begins as early as 3 or 4 a.m. following a snow, and according to Shoup, they have very few issues with cars parked along the road, however, one car parked on a block makes snow removal on that block nearly impossible.

“We have an ordinance in the books but we have never adopted or formalized emergency snow routes and with that consideration of fines or towing vehicles on such snow routes. We have always just followed this map,” Ortiz said. “In order to enforce our ordinance we need to designate and sign those roads.”

Creating an emergency snow route would require addressing the ordinance on file to designate the route and placing signs on the emergency snow routes roads. Designating that route essentially gives bite behind the bark when vehicles are parked on those routes when snow must be cleared. Those vehicles can then be towed at the owner’s expense and fines could be assessed.

Council chose to continue as has been done in the past and simply follow the current process without designating emergency routes.

“I would hate to fix something that is not quite broke,” Shoup said.

Council also voted unanimously to increase the local rates for dog licenses to cover the amount charged statewide for dog licensing.

The increase, effective February 15, 2016 will be $5.00 for a dog that has been spayed or neutered and $8.00 for an intact dog, if licensed prior to May 1, 2016. That cost rises $1.00 after May 1 for either classification.

According to City Administrator Daniel Ortiz, 99 licenses were sold in 2014-15, the highest number of licenses to date. Those numbers generally hover somewhere just more over 80.

When a dog at large is picked up and impounded the owner must pay a fine, prove that vaccinations are current and license the animal locally before it will be released from impound.

The fine covers the cost of caring for the animal while in impound and the licensing fees cover the cost of the tags as well as the state fees, with little left over.

“We don’t make much money from the impound, it all just goes back to vet for the boarding,” Ortiz said.

Two requests came before the council asking the City to vacate right-of-ways, prompting council to look at a third, much larger property as well.

The Kimball Evangelical Free Church is situated on two lots separated by a 16-20 foot “alley” with no utilities running underneath that has never been used. Representatives from the church would have to replat the two parcels into one after the City vacates.

Following a request from property owner Jorge Portillo, council vacated a 20 foot portion of Park Street, north of the railroad tracks, prior to the dead end of the street.

That particular right of way is undeveloped and unused as a street and easement is still available for city and utility purposes.

Council voted to vacate the property in the church parking lot as well as a the requested 20 feet of Park Street. In each of the first two cases the property owners would be responsible for having the property surveyed and re-platted.

The third consideration is a larger, unused portion of Park Street that became overgrown decades ago and currently is used by the adjacent property owners as part of their personal property though it was never officially vacated.

“It is not used as a road now and is probably not feasible to try to develop it as a road,” Ortiz said. “Is it worth considering vacating it?”

Council directed Ortiz to follow up with adjacent property owner(s) and council will revisit the concern.

 

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