Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 20, business owners and residents of the downtown district met with city officials to discuss how snow can be removed better and faster.

Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 20,  business owners and residents of the downtown district met with city officials to discuss how snow can be removed better and faster.

“We know we need to do a better job,” stated Mike Grafsgaard who acted as moderator for the discussion. He let the people gathered for the meeting know that the city was in the process of modifying its ordinances that deal with the issue and asked for input from everyone regarding better ways to get snow removal accomplished. He explained that the policies and procedures, in the process of being established create a challenge for the city with limited resources, equipment and personnel.

They would establish snow removal routes and prioritize them. Priority One would be the major roadways and emergency routes; U.S. Highway 2, College Drive, 7th Street NE, 6th Ave. NE, 5th Ave. SE, Walnut Street both east and west, 8th Ave. SE and 12th Ave SE. and NE. Then when those are open, Priority Two are the major roadways and school routes. After that Priority Three is the downtown area and the Industrial Park. With Priority Four being the residential area.

Following a significant snow event the downtown district would be done late at night, after businesses are closed and no one should be parking and in the way. Once residential removal starts they will begin with the streets, so if residents do not have an off street place to park, Grafsgaard said, the best thing to do is park on the Avenue and once the street is cleared, move your vehicle to the street, so you won’t get a ticket and snow removal can be done affectively.

They will no longer plow one lane down the streets and avenues when there is a lot of snow because that creates problems when they come back later to clear the snow out, Grafsgaard said.

A great deal was discussed about tickets and towing and what is fair. Some comments informed the group of what happens in larger cities during these kinds of events and how steep the fines or penalties are. Some business owners expressed frustration with the proposed changes and asked for alternative places to pile snow, like a parking lot, for example, rather than at the end of alleyways making it difficult for the city crews to remove using the blower.

Grafgaard said that they would look at all solutions and that they would work with the business people to come up with a better way of serving the entire community and to keep streets open on a regular basis and following a storm. That’s why they had this meeting and allowed everyone to have their say, it is important to work together and maybe come up with some solutions together, as well.