Here we go again, the onslaught of stories saying snow gates don’t work. As I talked about last year, they do work, and it depends on the operator. If you talk to any snowplow operator with the city, they will admit some drivers know how to use them better then others (learning curve). Last year with snow fall amounts under 6″, the snowgates were not used properly in my neighborhood. This year with two snow falls well over 6″ they used them in my neighborhood and I had barely anything in my driveway. In fact, during the first event, there was virtually NOTHING in my driveway.
But even if just a little crud is left, people are still OK with their use;
Not everyone is upset by the snow gates’ performance. Deb Billion has been living in Sioux Falls for several years, and says this year is much better than past winters.
“I vote a resounding yes on continuing using the snow gates,” said Billion.
Deb is the wife of former lawmaker Dr. Jack Billion. But there were some commenters that could not resist to piss all over them;
Its a rip off. Save the tax money wasted on these worthelss things and shovel you dang driveway. Thanks teressa Stehle for wasting our taxes. If you want the snow removed form your drivaway, then you should pay for it.
First off, I think my tax dollars were improperly used on your public education, but I won’t go there. Snow gates are simply an extension of a service the city already provides. It’s not some gigantic expenditure.
Speaking of snow removal expenditures, watch the video below (H/T MM);
The South Dacola foot soldier who sent me that vid asked if there was a better way to do this. I wonder if the snow scooper machines could just take the snow from the curb instead of wasting all this time and energy pushing it to the middle of the street and screwing up traffic flow?
Theresa Stehly (co-chair of the snow gate petition) recently had a letter published in the Argus Leader about identifying snow gate plows;
Snow Gate Service: WINNERS AND LOSERS
Our citizens voted a year ago to make it mandatory that the city use snow gates to clear the driveways in Sioux Falls. As the co-chair of the group that brought this issue to a vote, I have received many comments, both positive and negative about the quality of service provided during snow events. Our members have surveyed different neighborhoods after the snow plows have come through, and have discovered vast differences of efficiency in clearing the driveways with snow gates. There are snow gate operators out there who are doing a fantastic job. However, I have been told by the city street department that many drivers are still learning how to use the gates. We certainly understand that there are factors that could hinder the process like inexperience, attitude and fatigue.
We would like to see more accountability in the process. One area of assistance would be to have a large marking on each snow plow. Galen Huber, the street supervisor, told me that the plows already have a number assigned to them. Using that same number, enlarging it in black letters and placing it on each side of the plow, would give the citizens the information needed to help the drivers do a better job. Also, there could be an incentive for the drivers who had the most positive comments. Many of us have seen the markings on the back of semi-trucks that say “How is my driving ? Along with a phone number.” This inspires the person behind the wheel to do their best at all times. The same would hold true for our snow gate operators. Using information called in by the citizens, the street department could work with those drivers who are having a difficult time getting the job done. The manufacturer of our snow gates is willing to come and train drivers on the proper technique to clean all driveways within a neighborhood.
Along with an identifying number on each plow, the city needs to develop a SNOW GATE hotline. We have a POT-HOLE hotline, and the city sends out flyers with contact numbers to file complaints about neighbors who violate city codes. These numbers are frequently published and people are encouraged to call about their concerns. The same energy needs to go into the snow gate program. The city needs to include the snow gate hot line phone number in all mailings and media programs.
The snow gates have been a wonderful addition to the amenities offered by our city government. With some additional effort, we can create a winning experience next winter for all the citizens of Sioux Falls.
Theresa Stehly Showed up to the Sioux Falls City Council to talk Snowgates on April 7, 2015.
Theresa talked about the need of having visible large vinyl lettering signage on the snowplows with snowgates and a possible phone number (similar to ‘How is my Driving’). She pointed out the city is always putting out water bill inserts about how to turn in your neighbor with code enforcement, so why not a hotline to report unsatisfactory snow removal?
The Sioux Falls City Council under the careful guidance of Fiddle Faddle sure is making some bonehead moves lately. Silencing critics with jail time is one thing but issuing orders to Council Members to NOT talk to the public is another.
Fiddle Faddle is taking his workload a bit too serious. Why, he is even confusing the responsibilities of a City Council with that of a runaway jury. You remember the John Grisham movie “Runaway Jury” where the juror and a woman on the outside manipulate a court trial involving a major gun manufacturer?
Our City Council is supposed to be a legislative body, able to gather facts, figures and stories from their lives, friends, neighbors, newspapers and officials to make decisions. We citizens do not hire them to do only what they are told by an out of control city administration. Their job is to investigate and ask questions. They are not judicial in any sense of the meaning in their jobs as our representatives.
Fiddle Faddle is getting very tired and needs a break based on his stupid rulings of late.
The four guys who got up and talked at public input Monday night did so to remind the council of their responsibilities to us. The city government’s marketing chief and puppet master needs to actually take notice of the things said Monday night.
Think about this: the 4 different citizens all included assertions that “the City (Hall) doesn’t follow their own ordinances or statutory procedures”. At what point does our city government have to begin to follow the laws governing the rest of the United States and South Dakota. Even sovereign tribal nations have to follow most laws. Why not Sioux Falls?
One of the take away revelations from Monday night, There appear to be several state and federal lawsuits being dropped on Fiddle Faddle concerning not only ambulances but railroads, illegal property seizures and more. How many Fiddle Faddle marketing opinions are being challenged in the courts we have not heard about?
The above picture was sent to me by a reader that told me they didn’t even bother dropping the snow gate on his driveway, but did across the street. They also didn’t do a very good job on my driveway, my berm was over a foot high, while my neighbors had less, with longer driveways. I guess the snow plow drivers are determining who gets snow gate service thru the eeny-meeny-miney-mo process. That’s not how we wrote the ballot initiative AND now I am wondering what the consequences if an operator isn’t attempting to do it right? In other cities if the gates are not done right you can call into public works and they will come and clean it for you. There are some factors here to consider, the operators are paid an hourly wage, in other words if they have to slow down a bit, it is not going to affect their workload. Something else I like to remind people that the end of your driveway is OWNED by the city, clearing the streets IMO is no different then taking care of the curb. The Public Works department encourages residents to call them if they missed your driveway, so they can assess the situation.
There has often been an argument from the Public Works department that they really don’t work as well on long driveways and snows over 6 inches, which I find to be misleading.
Just yesterday I witnessed (below graphic) a snowplow operator kind of put that argument to shame. As I was sitting at the light on 49th street waiting to merge onto Western Ave. two snowplows going South on Western passed by. The first one had no snow gate, the second did, and he dropped it across 5 lanes of traffic (hardly slowing down) and I didn’t see any snow come over the snow gate until he was almost all the way across. As we said while doing research on snow gates across the country, they work on long driveways and in deep snow, now if our Public Works department will just choose to use them properly and often.
Once again, the half-ass TV news in our town is trying to claim snow gates don’t work. Well they do, it’s like any mechanical device, when operated properly it works. It would be like me taking a shotgun back to the store and asking for a refund because though I shot at the pheasants, I never killed any. Never mind the fact that I haven’t hunted in over 20 years and couldn’t aim to save my life.
Take for instance this last snowfall. During the first snowfall, the snowplow operator nailed my driveway, this time around, not so much. It appears they dropped it for a brief moment and lifted it back up right away. Still not complaining, better then the 2 foot berm I had before. Only took me about 5 scoops to clean out.
People, this comes down to using them properly. I have seen a ton of video footage of snowplow operators using snow gates in other communities ‘properly’ and they work. In one video the snowplow didn’t even slow down, and nailed the gate in about 10 inches of snow past a double driveway.
It’s going to take time and experience from the operators to get better at it. If you have any recommendations or complaints you can call the Public Works department at 367-8255.
Like the Drake Springs pool vote, it seems some on the city council just can’t stand the fact that citizens passed snow gates. Like Drake Springs*, they need to get over it and move on. Like I told a person yesterday, I didn’t vote for the Events Center, but the citizens said they wanted it, so it is what it is, all I can do now is make sure the facility is ran properly, and the councilors should do the same about snow gates. Huber put on a great presentation that was factual, positive and forthright, and all Rolfing and Erpenbach did was grasp at straws about snow gates usefulness. Michelle even went as far as saying it might potentially affect real estate values. She mentioned that people on the end of the block may not get as good of service as people in the middle, and somehow in her crazy reasoning, this would affect home prices on corner lots. (Actual Presentation, starts at 1:04)
WOW. Michelle has said some pretty ridiculous things, but this takes the cake. It also shows how little she knows about real estate and should concern us that she is voting on affordable housing issues and planning and zoning.
First thing I was told when I was looking for my first home, “Don’t buy a corner lot.” They are notorious for more sidewalk to scoop, more yard to mow, more trees to trim, and you are responsible for scooping the sidewalk ends. Some people like corner lots, but they are known for more maintenance, this isn’t some real estate secret, and certainly, snowgates are not going to change these facts.
Michelle and Rex need to accept the vote of the people, and move on, snow gates are a part of city ordinance passed by the citizenry by over 70% of the vote. Stop crying about them.
*Actually, ironically, it is good thing citizens voted for an outdoor pool at Nelson Park, since the Aquatics Consultant the city hired said due to groundwater issues at the park, an indoor pool at that location would have had maintenance issues.
As I was pondering the snow plow issue and all the crazy letters to the editor of people defending the violation of the establishment clause (because, you know, none of these people would be willing to paint Jesus Christ on the sides of their vehicles, well within their 1st Amendment rights, but defend it on government property). It reminded me of a discussion about what to name ‘Winter Wonderland’ when first proposed during the Munson administration. I remember there was a brief discussion when naming it, I think one of the suggestions was ‘Christmas at the Falls’. Not sure who got involved (City Attorney?) but I fondly remember someone within city government recommending it takes on a generic term not associated with a religious holiday. Smart move.
So what does this have to do with Jesus plows? It seems there are people who are intelligent enough about Constitutional law that work for the city (or worked for them at one time) to know you can’t cross that line while using tax dollars. So Huether shouldn’t act so surprised that this has become an issue. Of course, Huether knew nothing about local government or history of it until he started to run for mayor. History isn’t his strong suit.
As for the display itself, While I think it is a great idea, I think it could be done differently. Other cities do similiar displays but they have businesses volunteer the expense and labor and use it as an opportunity for teambuilding around Christmas. Workers and their families of the businesses that donate volunteer their time to set up the display then the city foots the bill of the electricity. They do have sponsors, but city employees do all the set-up. In fact, mostly public works department workers from the forestry division begin assembling the display starting October 1st. Which I find ironic in itself. One time when I questioned the city about project TRIM and why the city’s forestry department just didn’t trim trees that residences couldn’t reach in the boulevard, they replied, “We don’t have enough staff or enough time.” But taking almost two months to put up Christmas lights, plenty of time for. Just imagine how many trees could be trimmed in that same time period?
Once again, the city proves it’s priorities towards citizens and the law.
But some homeowners complained they weren’t very effective after yesterday’s snowfall and had to clear away some snow from their driveways.
After a friend of mine called Mark Cotter, the Director of Public Works today, he admitted that there is a ‘learning curve’ when it comes to the devices, and that some neighborhoods they missed some driveways. But he said he has received over 30 phone calls from people praising them and that they hardly had to remove any snow after they passed.
I figured this first snowfall there would be some shortfalls with them, but as they are used more, the drivers will get more proficient. It seems the biggest issue was that they don’t work, but they were not applied in some places.
So why is the media and public already whining they don’t work after only ONE real use in the entire city? Did you learn how to drive a car on your first spin around the neighborhood? Nope. And I don’t expect the snowplow operators to get down the devices on the first go around. Patience, Grasshopper, Patience.