Our view: Stick with snow storage spot
A noise complaint has prompted City Council to consider looking at alternate sites for snow storage.
The city needs to keep the site where it is and not waste any more time debating the issue.
Suzanne Schlicht, publisher and COO
Lisa Schlichtman, editor
Tom Ross, reporter
Dennis Fisher, community representative
Ed MacArthur, community representative
Enimie Reumaux, community representative
Snow removal is an essential service provided by any mountain town, and Steamboat Springs is no exception. The city spends about $600,000 to $700,000 a year on snow plowing and removal, and that cost can be impacted by where the snow is stored and how far it has to be hauled.
At their last meeting, City Council members spent time discussing a complaint lodged by a resident of the new Captain Jack subdivision off of east 13th Street. The man told the council his family could not sleep due to the noise created by snow being dumped by city trucks late at night at a city-owned snow storage area located behind his home, which is under construction.
We aren’t unsympathetic to the family’s concerns, but we do strongly believe the council shouldn’t waste another minute on the issue.
The Captain Jack development is a live-work area that is zoned for industrial use. It is located west of the Fairview neighborhood in close proximity to the city’s public works facility, the Steamboat Springs School District’s transportation center and bus barn and the Steamboat Springs animal shelter, operated by the Routt County Humane Society. The subdivision is bordered on its north side by a construction company, lumber yard and fuel station.
Subdivisions like these are not intended to function like regular neighborhoods. The intent of live-work developments is to allow someone who owns a business to live above their work space. When people build, buy or rent in these mixed-use areas, they need to understand the implications of living in an industrial area.
We also wonder what happens this summer when these same residents are kept awake by barking dogs at the animal shelter or woken up by the sound of heavy equipment starting up in the early morning hours at a nearby construction company. It wouldn’t be feasible to move the shelter or limit a private company’s ability to conduct business, and in that same vein, we would advise the city against moving a snow storage site that is convenient, has been in operation for 30 years and is located in a part of town that is zoned for industrial use.
If City Council were to decide to sell the site, purchase a new piece of property and take the snow elsewhere, the basic issues surrounding the operation of a snow dump site remain no matter where it is located.
Would citizens rather the city spend more of its budget on snow removal by purchasing another dump site further away from town? And what about the traffic implications, increased hauling costs and safety issues caused by city dump trucks filled with loads of heavy snow traveling out of town on U.S. Highway 40 to more remote storage sites?
The city has established a reliable, efficient system for snow removal that utilizes existing snow storage sites around town and benefits the entire community, and we don’t think City Council should spend time “fixing” something that isn’t broken.
City staff has been experimenting with ways to mitigate the situation by implementing inventive noise-reduction solutions at the site, and we think that’s the direction to take in this situation.
City Council has a number of priority projects on its growing “to-do” list and moving a functional snow storage site out of an industrial part of town to reduce noise for a few homeowners isn’t one of them.
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