Monticello sets snow removal priorities

by Anna Thayn

Although snow has not fallen for several weeks in Monticello, it was definitely on the radar of the Monticello City Council during their council meeting on January 13. 

Streets Supervisor Benny Musselman presented the council with a proposed priority list, outlining the order in which snow would be dealt with in the City. 

He told the council that on heavy snow days the crew starts work between 4 and 6 a.m. and works down the list of priorities as quickly as possible.  He said that it often takes 2-3 days to complete the tasks and open sidewalks.  Musselman told the council that a specific priority list will be helpful so that if the office gets a call about a location needing assistance, they will have an idea when the crew will be responding to that priority number. 

Musselman asked the council for direction regarding the issue of “storage lanes” on Main Street.  He asked the council what they would like the City crew to be pushing on Main Street and in front of businesses.  Mayor Allen praised the City crew and acknowledged the work they do.  “It’s great that we are having controversy over too much snow,” said Allen.

Musselman reported that UDOT used to plow snow to the middle of the road and then the city, with the assistance of San Juan County, would remove it as quickly as possible.  The practice ended several years ago, when the county estimated the cost to them at over $300,000. 

The possibility of going back to this system is not realistic, as the County Road Department is unable to do the work, and City Manager Myron Lee pointed out that the City does not have the resources to do it on their own.   

Musselman told the Council that the county is also trying to keep many more roads open in the county than they were ten year ago, and are already stretched thin on their resources.  Public Works Supervisor Nathan Langston told the council that the City crew is not trying to get out of doing work, but simply asks the council for some clarification as to what they want done.

 Mayor Allen questioned whether or not it is the city’s responsibility to clear the snow in front of businesses.  He agreed that it’s a good idea and helps with public safety.   Musselman pointed out concerns with not pushing the storage lane and having every property owner having a different tractor pushing snow back and forth across Main Street and it becomes a safety concern.   

He also told the council that they estimate it costs the city $4,000 to clean up after one storm, not counting maintenance or wear and tear on equipment.

Councilman Brad Randall said that as a property owner on Main Street, he feels it is the property owner’s responsibility to remove the snow from in front of their business. 

According to the current Monticello City Code it is the property owners responsibility to deal with snow in front of their business in a timely manner following a storm. 

Mayor Allen said that businesses need to take some personal responsibility to clear the sidewalks in front of their building.  Councilman Jeremy Hoggard expressed concern over where the Main street businesses are supposed to put the snow. He pointed out that they don’t have back parking lots to move it to.

There was serious concern raised about standing water that creates ice slicks, where the ice gets so thick it can’t ever melt.  It was felt that some of the Main Street drainage problems would be solved when the new highway is done and storm drains are installed. 

Lee pointed out that they are writing up a proposal to do a storm drain study to look at the issues in town and come up with a plan on how to address them. 

The Council discussed the problems with ice on two city side streets that are created by drainage from the state highway.  

Musselman told the council that his concern is that the city ordinance needs to match what the city staff is doing, rather than “just be words that nobody cares about”.   

After much discussion the council approved the snow removal priorities in the following order:  sidewalks for school access, city parking lots ie: fire/ambulance/welcome center/city office/main street parking, roadways and intersections, water treatment plant and sewer lagoons, fire hydrants, storm drains, and removal of snow in storage lanes at the council’s recommendation (including when, where and how much).   The council passed the priority list as outlined by the City Crew with three votes in favor.    

Dennis Crane, San Juan School District Director of Career and Technical Education made a presentation to the council.  He asked the council to proclaim February as Career and Technical Education Month.   The State of Utah has made the designation as well.  

Crane talked about the No Child Left Behind program and the emphasis to improve the core and basic education of the students.  Crane told the council that he supports this program, but that there has been some sacrifice of elective courses in the school and feels that “Career and Technical education is an important aspect of a complete high school education”.   

Crane told the council that currently there are 20 pathways at Monticello High School that can lead a student directly from the high school into the work force.   He explained his goal to begin educating the citizens of the importance of these programs so that they will not be pushed out of the school.   The council will put the item on their next agenda for approval.

City Public Works Supervisor Nathan Langston reported that the Mountain water project is essentially complete, and consists of 19 miles of new pipe, 16 stream diversions, 13 spring collection boxes, 93 isolation valves, and 10 concrete cleanout structures. 

Langston says they are excited to have the project done and hope to see an increase in water flow this season.  Langston reported that in 2007 they pumped out of Loyd’s Lake for less than a month and did not pump out of the lake at all in 2008, and they are hoping for that again in 2009. Langston reported that there is now better access to the system and better security on the water system.  

The Council approved a resolution requiring deposits for new utility customers and fees and consequence for late payments on utilities.  The council hopes the new policy will help change the more than $13,000 in outstanding utility charges, and encourage citizens to pay their utility bill promptly.

Amber Nowack, Monticello resident, presented an idea to help the city raise money for a new swimming pool called “The great Monticello Pool Round-up”. Residents could be given the opportunity of rounding their water bill up to the nearest dollar in order to help fund the pool.

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