City Council endorses changes to city snow removal operations | SteamboatToday.com

City Council endorses changes to city snow removal operations

Scott Franz

Tow truck driver John Layman attaches a chain to the front of a city of Steamboat Springs plow truck Tuesday morning before attempting to pull the fully loaded vehicle from a drainage ditch along Steamboat Boulevard. The driver was attempting to push back the piles of snow that collect along the roadways when the tires got caught in the ditch and pulled the truck into the drainage. The road was temporarily closed while crews worked to remove the vehicle from the ditch.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council will allow the city to spend as much as $450,000 to purchase two used road graders as part of a plan to make the city’s snow removal operations safer and more efficient next winter season.

City officials believe relying more heavily on the road graders as opposed to the more accident-prone sand trucks, which are currently the workhorses of the city’s snow removal fleet, will lead to fewer accidents and better-plowed streets.

Public Works Director Chuck Anderson told the council the sand trucks have gone off the road a dozen times this winter.

In one of the most serious incidents, a truck nearly rolled down a steep hill off Amethyst Drive but was stopped by a lone pine tree.

In addition, Anderson said, because there is no downward force on the plows on the sand trucks, they don’t remove snow as well as the graders.

Though the council endorsed the idea of switching to road graders, city staff did not get everything they were seeking Tuesday night.

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Leaders of the city’s public works department, and one council member, wanted to purchase two new graders as opposed to used ones.

They argued that, although the new graders cost more to purchase, they come with warranties and ultimately cost less to maintain in the long haul.

The city also receives a hefty government discount on the purchase of new equipment.

“We’ve got the money (to purchase new graders) and we’ve got the operators,” City Street Superintendent David Van Winkle told the council. “I realize we have a deficiency in our system. I’m trying to make an improvement, but buying used doesn’t seem right to me when we have the money and the government discounts.”

The city had $690,000 available in its reserve fleet fund to cover the purchase of the new graders.

Councilwoman Robin Crossan said she had spoken with many community members about the issue, and most supported buying the new graders the city was seeking.

“We don’t want to buy somebody else’s problem,” Crossan said of purchasing the used graders.

Council members who supported purchasing used equipment felt the city could find quality graders at a cheaper price and end up saving money.

The council last month allowed the city to lease one grader this season so it could begin improving the plowing operations.

Hours before the council made that decision, a sand truck fell into a drainage ditch on Steamboat Boulevard and had to be towed out.

In other action:

• The council voted unanimously to allow the short sale of former City Manager Alan Lanning’s home, even though the transaction does not making the city whole on a $133,000 home loan the city gave Lanning upon his 2006 hire. The council set a condition on the approval that Lanning sign a promissory note for any balance of the loan that isn’t paid when the home is sold.

• The council approved the annexation of a 3.21-acre parcel of land to the north of Old Town. The council OK’d the annexation with a condition that there can be no more than four lots created on the property over the next 10 years. The restriction was put in place after the council heard concerns from neighboring property owners about the prospect of more dense development on the land.

• The council approved the first reading of the purchase of the part of Hitchens Island the city doesn’t already own in the Yampa River. Under the agreement, Amy Goodwin would receive a life lease on the property she currently owns to continue grazing horses on the island. The city wants to purchase the island for $80,000 to guarantee permanent public river access around the island.