Snow removal hot topic

MEEKER I Complaints about snow removal are as predictable as, well, snow. Whether it’s a gripe about how quickly snow is hauled off the streets or a grumble about where the snow is piled until spring, complaints are perennial.
Snow removal in Meeker is the responsibility of the town’s public works department. Public works has five employees, three snowplows and two other pieces of snow removal equipment to clear more than 20 miles of roadways.
If the snow would cooperate by falling only in the late evening and early morning hours, snow removal would be much easier. However, when the bulk of the snow falls during daylight hours, the town’s plows and trucks have to choreograph a slow-moving dance with traffic, parked cars, and unpredictable pedestrians.
In residential areas and throughout most of town, snow is plowed to the sides of the streets. In the downtown business district, from Fourth Street to Eighth Street between Market and Main, the town collects snow property owners push into the center of the street. Snow gathered at the corners along Market Street is also collected by the town, to avoid visibility problems for drivers.
“Businesses weren’t required to have snow storage when those buildings were built,” said Sharon Day, town administrator. Changes to building regulations now require properties to have adequate on-site snow storage.
“First National Bank of the Rockies has snow storage now (in their new parking lot) and stores their own snow,” Day said, by way of example.
Property owners in the aforementioned area are permitted to plow snow into the street.
“At this point, that’s perfectly legal,” Day stated.
Anyone plowing snow from driveways or parking lots is asked to first consider storing the snow on-site if possible. If the snow has to be moved into the street, residents are asked to avoid leaving ridges on the street, which can create dangerous conditions for the town’s plows.
Drivers are also asked to be aware of rights-of-way for snow removal equipment. A vehicle with a yellow or blue flashing light has the right-of-way at all intersections and may not be required to yield to other traffic. Residents are asked to use caution in the presence of snow removal equipment, and if possible, to avoid traffic in the block where snow is being removed.
“Meeker is the only town I’ve ever lived in that plows all of its streets,” Day said. Most communities, even Denver and Colorado Springs, don’t plow every street.
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In their first meeting of the new year, Meeker’s Board of Trustees approved a special events liquor license for the Meeker Lions Club to serve liquor during the Meeker Chamber of Commerce banquet and annual meeting Feb. 10. Also approved: A permit for the 2011 use of Ute Park to David Smith Ranches, Inc.
Mayor Mandi Etheridge asked the board to consider ways to make Ute Park more accessible. A citizen she spoke with was under the impression that the gates to Ute Park were locked and the ranching operation was underway year round, which is not the case.
“Yes, there are those three months in the spring when there’s calving going on and people shouldn’t be in there, but the rest of the time the area is open as a public park,” Etheridge said.
Following the regular meeting, the board held a workshop to discuss progress in the plan for the old elementary school building.
Currently, the town is awaiting the final environmental study on the building. The results of that study are likely to significantly impact the number of potential re-uses and interested developers. Once the study is received, the town will issue a request of interest (RFI) to developers.
Town administrator Sharon Day said visiting similar projects in Carbondale and Palisade where schools have been retrofitted for other uses might be beneficial. A former school in Carbondale is now used as a kind of artist’s center, and a Palisade school is in the process of being transformed into a fire department and a community room.