Pierz Council reviews cost of having city staff remove snow on all city sidewalks

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

Pierz city staff currently clears 19 of the city’s 47 blocks of sidewalk. The Council is considering whether it would be cost-prohibitive to have staff clear all 47 sidewalk blocks in the city.

Many new sidewalks will be put in place this summer, as the result of the Safe Routes to School project, which is meant to encourage students to walk or ride a bicycle to school. Residents who will now have sidewalks have concerns about being able to keep the sidewalks clear in the winter months.

Public Works Director Bob Otremba brought some cost estimates on plowing city sidewalks for the Council to review Monday.

Otremba said that because the city’s current equipment is wider than many sidewalks in the city, the blade would cut into people’s yards and boulevards and still not clear the snow all the way down to the sidewalk. To purchase a garden tractor with a cab, sweeper and snow blower, that would work well on the city’s sidewalks, was estimated to cost about $25,000.

Otremba also included annual costs for operating and maintenance of the equipment ($1,500); labor ($2,500); and replacement cost ($1,500, which would be put aside annually), for a total of $5,500.

Otremba said he estimated the cost for each block of sidewalk snow removal to be about $100. He said one block meant a sidewalk on just one side of the street, so $200 for the sidewalk on each side of street on a one-block stretch.

Time involved in removing the snow off all city sidewalks after a 2-inch snowfall, Otremba estimated at 4.7 hours, .1 hour for each block length of sidewalk. The more snow that falls, the more time will be required.

Currently, city staff spends 1.9 hours clearing snow off the 19 blocks, considered high-travel blocks. Those blocks include Main Street (17 blocks) and one block on First Avenue South and Summer Street and one block on Park Avenue.

The Council agreed the public’s input was needed before making a decision. Plans are to hold a meeting for input in the fall. A date has not yet been set.