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Park Rapids reminds residents of snow plow procedures

Park Rapids public works employee Steph Paulson uses a Bobcat to move piling snow off street corners. The city has designated snow plow routes, which will be cleared first due to traffic volume and importance. (File photo)

By Anna Erickson

As the threat of snow increases with each passing day, residents in the city of Park Rapids should refresh their memories on the city’s snow plow policy.

Facility maintenance superintendent Chris Fieldsend said some of the main items to remember are that technically homeowners are responsible for removing snow from sidewalks. The city has typically had an employee plow sidewalks but it isn’t always done right away.

If someone wants a sidewalk cleared of snow immediately it needs to be done by the homeowner, Fieldsend said.

“The city finds that it is in the best interest of the residents of the city to assume basic responsibility for control of snow and ice on city streets,” according to the policy. “Reasonable ice and snow control is necessary for routine travel and emergency services. The city will attempt to provide such control in a safe and cost effective manner, keeping in mind safety, budget, personnel, and environmental concerns.”

The Public Works Superintendent will decide when to begin snow or ice control operations.

That decision is based on snow accumulation of two inches or more, drifting of snow that causes problems for travel, icy conditions that seriously affect travel and time of snowfall in relationship to heavy use of streets.

Snow and ice control operations are expensive and involve the use of limited personnel and equipment so snowplowing will generally not be done for less than two inches.

The city has classified city streets based on the street function, traffic volume and importance to the welfare of the community.

Those streets classified as “Snow Plow Routes” will be plowed first. These are high volume routes, which connect major sections of the city and provide access for emergency fire, police, and medical services. The second priority streets are those streets providing access to schools and commercial businesses. The third priority streets are low volume residential streets. The fourth priority areas are alleys and city parking lots.

The Municipal Airport (Konshok Field) is considered a high priority and will be plowed immediately and sometimes during a snowfall event. The Public Works Superintendent/Airport Manager will determine if and when the snow will be plowed or removed from the airfield.

During significant and severe storms, the city must be prepared to move personnel and equipment to maintain priority routes first. In fulfilling the need to have all priority streets safe and passable, when resources are limited, plowing of all other streets may be stopped at any time so resources can be shifted to priority routes.

Unforeseeable circumstances may cause delays in completing assigned plow routes. Such circumstances may include weather conditions that endanger the safety of snowplow operators and/or safe and effective operation of equipment, commuter traffic, disabled vehicles, poor visibility conditions, and parked cars along streets, assistance to emergency response vehicles, equipment breakdown, and personnel shortages.

Coming into contact with a mailbox is a common obstacle snowplow operators face during storm activities. The city will conduct a review of each mailbox incident to determine whether the city will replace or provide reimbursement for the mailbox.

The city will not be responsible for damage to mailboxes or support posts caused by snow or ice coming into contact with the mailbox. At the mailbox owner’s request, the city will provide the specifications for new or replacement mailbox and support.

Some streets are wide enough to require two passes of the plow on each side. Homeowners should wait until the second pass is done to shovel driveways to minimize the need to shovel twice, Fieldsend said.

Questions about the policy can be directed to City Hall at 732-3163.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561