A few weeks ago, snow plowing was debated during a meeting of Summit Hill Borough Council. The police and council weren't on the same page regarding the rules governing parking during a snowstorm.
This week, Lehighton Borough Council discussed snow plowing and snow removal. It was obvious council members, the mayor, the police, and a business owner were disappointed in how things were handled during the series of winter storms which occurred.
Lehighton Council President Grant Hunsicker said he will call a meeting of department heads in the borough to discuss what can be done to improve winter maintenance.
The best quote of the Lehighton meeting came from Mayor Donald Rehrig, who told Hunsicker, "Do it now and not wait until July to think about it."
One of the main responses in both Summit Hill and Lehighton regarding dealing with snow is simplifying their ordinance enough that virtually everyone understands.
For example, in Summit Hill there was a question of whether tickets could be handed out on the same day that a storm ends.
In Lehighton, there are virtually no restrictions on moving cars for a snowstorm unless removal occurs.
Council members in both communities are trying to please ALL the residents. In doing so, there are gaps occurring in the snow plowing regulations.
Today, weather forecasters can predict accurately, in advance, when a snowstorm is coming. If a snowstorm is predicted, parking rules should be applied - whether it be odd-even parking or simply moving vehicles from one side of the street until that street is cleared.
It's true that many families own several vehicles. Moving them before or after a snowstorm can be an inconvenience. But it has to be done.
In Summit Hill, councilman John O'Gurek said no curb-to-curb plowing will occur if even one vehicle is parking on that side of the street in a specific block. So one person who doesn't give a hoot for his neighbors can prevent adequate street cleaning.
There were vehicles along Summit Hill streets not moved during the complete string of winter storms.
The council must look out for the majority and apply rules for plowing. If residents don't move vehicles when specified, they should be ticketed and/or towed.
Plowing must occur during a storm, not only after it's over.
Failure for plowing to occur properly can affect garbage collection - especially on narrow roads and alleys. It can effect school buses.
More seriously, it can prevent ambulances and fire apparatus from responding safely and in a timely manner.
In Lehighton, there are more issues than just the ordinance. One borough worker complained that overtime has been curtailed so limitations are placed on evening and weekend work.
Council members have to realize that a snowstorm is an emergency situation and must be dealt with appropriately. Not responding to snowstorms can cost the borough more in the long run.
Also, it used to be that every municipal department - borough workers, water authority, and light and power personnel - worked together with their respective equipment to clear streets. Apparently, according to dialogue, this isn't happening any more.
All municipal workers are paid by borough residents and should serve their needs.
In Lehighton, not only must rules for plowing be enacted, the department heads must meet very soon and compile a plowing protocol.
There are probably other local towns who should also take note and start preparing already for next winter.
By RON GOWER