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home : opinion : editorial June 28, 2016

12/11/2013 8:58:00 AM
Our winter responsibility

There can be no doubt anymore.
Winter is here and it's a relatively normal one at that. Unlike some previous years, December has arrived complete with snow, ice and cold temperatures.
By now, area residents are used to dressing for winter. They've honed their winter driving skills and they've learned to allow more time to reach their destination in these icy conditions.
However, it appears area residents have not quite mastered all of their winter weather activities. Windom Street Superintendent Bruce Caldwell says many residents are still shirking their responsibilities when it comes to shoveling sidewalks and parking cars.
While it's clear that the vast majority of Windom residents follow the rules when it comes to parking their vehicles and clearing snow from sidewalks and streets, Caldwell has seen more than his share of violations. On Tuesday, he stressed that the rules are there for good reason and if the violations continue, city officials will have no choice but to enforce penalties and citations.
Here is a quick refresher regarding Windom's snow removal and parking rules.
Sidewalks and driveways
Caldwell has seen two problems with residents clearing snow on sidewalks and driveways.
One involves people shoveling, pushing or blowing snow onto the street. Caldwell pointed out that it is illegal to deposit snow in the street. Violators can be cited.
Another problem is with residents who do not clear snow from sidewalks. City ordinance requires that sidewalks be cleared of snow and ice within 12 hours after a snow event.
While snow removal can be handled by the property owner or tenant, the owner is ultimately responsible for the sidewalk.
"It is a problem," Caldwell said. "There are a lot of sidewalks that are not being taken care of."
Caldwell said the majority of the snow removal problems with sidewalks are related to rental units. The property owners, in most cases, do not live in the community and therefore are unable to personally keep an eye on sidewalks.
If the city receives a complaint, it sends a notice of violation to the property owner. If the work is not completed, the City of Windom will hire someone to do it and the property owner will be billed.
"The minimum fee is $100," Caldwell said. "And if the bill is not paid, it will be put on the property taxes."
Winter parking
Meanwhile, Caldwell says winter parking is an annual problem.
"If snow is predicted, don't park your car on the street," Caldwell said. "If you have to park on the street, try to get it moved before the plow goes by."
If it's a case where a plow was forced to plow around your car, make sure you don't park near the same location later on. Allow the plow plenty of room to clear the area that could not be plowed when your car was parked there.
Also, do not park your car directly across the street from another parked car. Plows are wide and it can be difficult for them to squeeze between two parked cars.
If the community receives enough snow, a snow emergency can be declared. That would result in folks being asked to park on certain sides of the street, depending on whether it's an odd or even numbered day. Snow emergencies have been unusual, of late. In fact, no snow emergencies were declared last winter.
Caldwell says if a snow emergency situation should arise, residents would likely receive at least 48 hours notice and the matter would be publicized heavily in the Citizen, Shopper and KDOM.
Above all, residents need to use common sense with all aspects of winter. If you are driving, slow down. Pay attention to all intersections, whether or not they are controlled. If you are following a snow plow, give them plenty of room.
And remember, keeping sidewalks and streets clear of snow helps all of our pedestrians, motorists and emergency people get around town more easily.
  - Rahn Larson

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