At this week’s Creswell City Council meeting on March 11, the council received updates on the February snow storm from Public Works and concerned community members.
Community member Ed Gunderson contacted the city to discuss the apparent lack of community compliance and city enforcement to the city code relating to snow and ice on sidewalks.
Creswell Municipal Code 8.05.070 states that no owner or person in charge of property, improved or unimproved, abutting on a public sidewalk can allow snow to remain on the sidewalk for a period longer than the first two hours of daylight after the snow has fallen. The code also prohibits ice to stay on the sidewalk for more than two hours of daylight after the ice has formed, unless the ice is covered with sand, ashes or other suitable material to assure safe travel.
Gunderson said that there have been several sidewalk safety hazards after the February snow storm because the municipal code has not been followed by residents or consistently enforced by code enforcement officers.
”Myself and others continue to slip on sidewalks where the code has not been complied with or enforced,” Gunderson wrote, asking what might be done to assure safe pedestrian travel after snow, ice, wind and other events.
This isn’t Gunderson’s first attempt to raise concerns on snow and ice code enforcement.
He wrote in his letter to the mayor that ”for over 20 years I have cleared my sidewalks, reminded the City and property owners to remove snow, ice and debris from sidewalks in conversations and letters with mayors, councilors, city managers and business owners, after weather events.” Letters to the editor have also been published regarding the issue, he said.
Mayor Zettervall responded via email to Gunderson’s inquiry, stating that while he shares Gunderson’s concerns, ”the City of Creswell, public works, code enforcement, the airport and city residents were caught off guard and ill-prepared to deal such a huge amount of snow.”
Mayor Zettervall said City Manager Michelle Amberg suggested Gunderson gather a group of volunteers to clear some of the sidewalks around the city, particularly focusing on high-traveled areas like South 5th Street or downtown.
”I am not concerned about public works but rather property owners who have not performed their obligation to clear sidewalks,” Gunderson responded, noting that after the first snow he cleared his sidewalks and portions of three of his neighbors’ sidewalks; the same was repeated after the second snowfall, and he also cleared sidewalks around the museum and portions of the adjoining properties.
”I was also dealing with the collapse of one structure and removing snow from others to prevent collapse,” Gunderson said. ”While I do assist as much as possible, keep in mind that I am well into senior citizenship.”
Mayor Zettervall said that ”there are many different situations that preclude people from clearing sidewalks,” and that ”the City is truly trying its best.”
At the Creswell City Council meeting March 11, Mayor Zettervall said that Gunderson brought up a good point about this issue with the snow and ice code.
”This code is something that city council needs to look at,” Zettervall said. ”We have the code there, but what do we do? How do we enforce it?”
The mayor said this code enforcement and compliance issue will be looked into at a future work session.
Manger Amberg reminded residents in an email to make sure that sidewalks are free of snow and ice. ”Removal of snow and ice are the responsibility of the person in charge of the property. It is important to clear these surfaces so that persons with limited mobility can get around. It is also a safety issue for children walking to and from school. It is important that everyone have a safe traveling surface,” she said.
SNOW DAMAGE UPDATE
Public Works Director Cliff Bellew gave the council an update on the aftermath of the February snow storm at this week’s meeting.
The Creswell water plant, wastewater plant, reservoirs and sewer lift station were all without power for multiple days, but all was not lost.
”We operated the plants under generator power at full capacity for the days without power,” Bellew said, thanks to the foresight and practice of previous administrators.
Public Works does have a spare auxiliary fuel tank that holds 100 gallons of diesel fuel. All generators and equipment already were fueled and ready for the storm, he said. During the storm, fuel for generators was purchased, and fueling the generators ”was a daily task,” Bellew said.
Council President Amy Knudsen inquired about the City’s efforts to be better prepared, specifically noting fuel.
Bellew said that Public Works has an agreement with 76 gas station owner Bill Spencer. Public Works can bring a generator to Spencer’s station with a fuel pump and tap into his fuel.
”It’s just a slow process,” Bellew said. ”If we really had to that is the back-up plan.”
Also as a result of the snow storm, Bellew said there were power spikes at the lift station and water plant that caused damage to equipment, including to two uninterrupted power supply units for pump operation, Bellew said.
Operators were on site running the pumps around the clock until repairs were made on Tuesday morning. The pumps had to be adjusted every 15 to 20 minutes for several days, he said.
The generator at City Hall sustained over-voltage and faulted out, which resulted in loss of power at City Hall and Creswell’s South Lane County Fire & Rescue Station. It is now repaired, he said.
The Public Works crew worked for three days straight, clearing the streets and driveways with three backhoes and a grader.
There was gutter and roof damage on some city-owned buildings, including the Cobalt Center; broken gutters at the wastewater plant; broken awnings on the Publics Works building; fence damage at Holt Park; and a great deal of downed-trees on city-owned property.
Bellew said the Public Works crew is working on tree and snow removal on city-owned properties and right-of-ways, but plans to be ”in good shape in the near future.”
He said overall the city fared relatively well.
”You guys were rockstars,” Mayor Zettervall said.