Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Burns Harbor gets tough with vehicles blocking snowplows

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By PAULENE POPARAD

An ordinance is being drawn up that will establish guidelines for parking on all Burns Harbor town streets prior to, during and after snow events.

The new law likely will include authorization to have residents’ illegally parked vehicles towed at owner expense and for repeated violations, towing and a fine.

“Is there any way we can do anything about parking? It is truly just insane in the neighborhood subdivisions,” Burns Harbor street superintendent Randy Skalku told the Town Council on Wednesday night.

Skalku described gridlock at times after this past weekend’s blizzard because cars often were parked in the street across from each other making it almost impossible to squeeze a plow between them. When he could, that left some cars buried.

Another problem, Skalku added, was residents plowing/shoveling snow into the streets complicating the situation.

Town marshal Mike Heckman said property owners can incur liability if accidents occur as a result of them moving their snow onto public streets.

Residents have been urged to park on their own property before, said councilman Jeff Freeze. “I’d rather have this be a self-governing situation but we’ve seen it’s not working and probably need something to give the Police Department some teeth (for enforcement).”

Building commissioner/fire chief Bill Arney described ways parking could be regulated for snowfalls, and associate town attorney Chuck Parkinson was asked to prepare a draft ordinance for future consideration.

Overall, councilman and Street Department liaison Gene Weibl commended employees for what he described as the incredible job they did in the face of extreme conditions. “We were far and above everyone out there taking care of business and keeping things good.”

That’s despite equipment break-downs that temporarily left the Street Department with one truck and one loader while emergency repairs were being made.

Skalku proposed the purchase of a 5-ton 2014 truck he’s found that’s immediately available with the features he wants but because of the price, clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said bids will have to be solicited. Parkinson said exceptions can be made for certain reasons, but an effort has to be made first to obtain other bids so that will be done expeditiously.

Jordan also was asked by the council to seek proposals from banks to finance the purchase over time since the truck will be used for several years.

The council’s next regular meeting was set for Feb. 5 but members may convene earlier for the truck bids and other reasons.

Heckman praised town residents for heeding warnings not to venture out in the blizzard during a state of emergency. The town only had three reportable accidents not counting slide-offs, the marshal added.

Arney also thanked Skalku’s crew for keeping access open and roads clear to the Fire Department and its station, which was open as a warming shelter. Park Board member Marcus Rogala added that department’s thanks for plowing roads in Lakeland Park.

Jordan asked how she should handle payroll for town employees who didn’t come into work Monday due to the blizzard; the town policy manual does not address the situation. The council, minus Weibl, decided absent employees have to use a personal or vacation day.

Weibl had left the meeting due to illness after giving his reports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted 1/9/2014