After taking November and December off, Old Man Winter tried to make up for lost time by dumping 10″ to 12″ on us earlier this week.
Fortunately, we’re getting a temporary reprieve with temperatures forecast to climb back into the 40’s for at least the next couple of days which should make most of that last storm a melting memory, but I’m guessing we’re not exactly out of the woods yet, and more snow and ice is sure to follow in the weeks to come.
With that in mind, the City is trying something new in 2012. Anyone that follows the discussions of City Council would know that Council has wrestled for many hours on how to enlist the help of residents and businesses to clear snow and ice from sidewalks following storms.
Council even put together a committee of city residents to study what other cities have done for sidewalk clearing and the committee came back with examples of cities that played hard ball — establishing stiff financial penalties for non-shovelers — and soft ball — assigning City crews to clear critical sidewalks. The question has been what will work best in Kent?
The expectation is that good neighbors do their part to keep the sidewalks around their homes clear but legislating good neighborliness has proven to be problematic.
Recognizing that, Kent City Council made some minor ordinance changes to put a little more pressure on residents to pitch in but they’ve also asked us to find ways to encourage — rather than enforce — more shoveling and we’ve done things like make shovels available for residents to borrow and we’ve created an annual awards program recognizing our local shovelers who went above and beyond the call of duty (watch a video of their efforts).
Along those same lines, we’re planning to try something new in 2012: Free rock salt for Kent City residents to use on the sidewalks around their home.
On Friday, January 6th, the Public Service crews will be setting out a trash container full of rock salt for City residents to use to fill their buckets at the Yard Waste facility adjacent to Plum Creek Park.
The salt container will be oustide the fence just to the left of the Yard Waste gate so residents can come by at their convenience (24-7) to fill their bucket and salt their sidewalks.
This is meant as a service for residents, not contractors, and we will use video equipment to make sure that the right people are using this new service.
City crews will keep an eye on the salt level in the container and refill it as necessary. Plus, there’s a phone number posted at the site to call if the salt runs out.
We’re hoping that this new service offers a small incentive to get more shovels and snow blowers working on City sidewalks to keep pedestrians safe.
It’s hard enough to battle winter’s wind and temperatures without having to make a path through un-shoveled territory.