Snow plan leaves room for holiday snowbanks
Written by Mark Reaman   
Wednesday, 07 November 2012

Skip wants changes in parking regs...

The Crested Butte Town Council officially signed off on the 2012-2013 snow plan at their November 5 meeting. As part of the plan, you can look for a few more snowbanks along Elk Avenue to satiate the tourists during high season.


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The council thoroughly reviewed the plan presented by Crested Butte public works director Rodney Due last month. But the council took the opportunity to open the proverbial can of snow and talk about snowbanks once again.
Councilperson Shaun Matusewicz made it clear he was a huge proponent of the scenic snowbanks and would prefer to see them more often than not. Councilpersons Jim Schmidt and Roland Mason agreed.
But under the current plan, the snowbanks are removed from Elk Avenue pretty quickly after a storm unless a major event like the Alley Loop or Big Air on Elk needs large quantities of snow to make it work. Then it is more cost effective to keep the snow closer to Elk rather than hauling it off to be stored and then hauled back for the event.
“But I strongly support snowbanks on Elk,” said Matusewicz, citing last year’s Crested Butte News “Best of the Butte” poll that showed an overwhelming support of the snowbanks.
“I grew up with the snowbanks. I love them,” said Mason. “But last year when we started peeling the snowpack on Elk to the street, the snowbanks got baked and turned brown. They looked pretty bad at times. They looked like rough snow berms and not nice fluffy snowbanks. That’s the reality with the new policy.”
“Maybe we leave them from just before Christmas to after New Year’s,” suggested Matusewicz. “The tourists love them.”
“It’s true that every photo of Elk in the winter has a snowbank,” said Mason.
The council decided to instruct Due to try to keep the snowbanks on Elk during the holidays as well as near the big events. Due said he’d consult with town manager Susan Parker before hauling them off.
“It’s about health and safety primarily,” she told the council. “We’ll look at it during that time.”
Resident John Elm approached the council to see if there was an alternative to loudly storing snow in the middle of the night at the empty lots near his home on the east side of town.
“Moving the snow into those lots that are affordable housing lots keeps us up all night with the truck traffic,” Elm said. “Since those lots will someday be developed you must have a plan of where the snow will be stored when that happens. Can you go to that plan now instead of in, say, 2015? It is highly annoying. We’re just asking that the future plan be implemented sooner rather than later.”
Parker said she understood the situation since she lives directly across from a snow storage lot. Councilperson John Wirsing lives in a similar situation.
“I hear you, but our town is not big and we are running out of lots to store snow,” Due told them.
“Is there any way to lower the noise or stop the trucks from banging the back hatch?” asked Wirsing.
“Not really,” responded Due. “We have tried to coat the truck beds to make the snow slide easier. And we berm the lots near [John Elm’s] house first so that it can shield some of the noise. Unfortunately, there’s not a real good solution to that problem.”
Parker said the town has explored using technology like snow-melt that would eliminate some snow storage but the technology wasn’t yet environmentally adequate or cost effective.
“You’ve got to love the convenience of living in town but it sure can be loud in the winter,” stated Mason.
Resident Skip Berkshire wanted to make sure that clearing the bus route through town was a priority in the plan. He was assured that it was.
Berkshire then wanted “to ask one more time” to change the town parking regulations so that town driveways were more equitably inconvenienced. Under current town parking regulations, houses on the south and west sides of the street are plowed-in one more day a week than the north and east sides.
“That results in a huge inequity,” he said. “One side of town could get plowed in 25 more times than the other. Do the math. If the town went to a plow plan that was based on an odd-even sort of timing, the discrepancy goes to just three times. That’s a big difference.”
Berkshire was suggesting, for example, that on even calendar dates the north side of the street is plowed and on odd dates, the south side is plowed.
It would not be a stretch to assume that Berkshire’s driveway currently gets plowed in more than his neighbors’ across the street.
Berkshire admitted that his proposed change would come with a big cost to change the parking signs throughout town but said if the council could begin budgeting just $5,000 a year, the change in parking signs would be paid for pretty quickly.
“I’m just asking the council to consider this,” he said. “I think the overall plan is a good one. But also look to the future. Do something other than just sticking with a bad plan because that’s the way it’s always been done. But I think you all are doing a great job.”
The council agreed to consider the request but officially approved the 2012-2013 Snow Plan as presented.