Eds Note: With this post, we welcome a new contributor to the blog, Craig Stahl. If the last name looks a bit familiar, his wife, Lisa, has been testing out the Wasusaublog waters for a while now and I guess Craig felt it was fine to dive in. With his background in community planning I am sure Craig will add a lot to the conversation here. Welcome aboard, Craig! I also have to say that Craig sent this to me before the warmth and the rain, but the questions are still germaine.
By Craig Stahl
As we all watch those two snow mounds bracketing the entrance to our driveway grow to heights that prevent us from seeing oncoming traffic, we all begin to hope that spring comes before backing into the flow of traffic becomes a game of roulette. The Daily Herald has a story today about how the city crews scoop the snow up and take it to the snow dumps when the piles get too high. I am sure that this service is expensive on the part of the city as the labor and cost of running the vehicles to relocate all this material that eventually disappears into the Wisconsin River anyway. Is there some way to avoid this cost, yet still maintain safe conditions and roadway visibility for our community?
To start discussion, I’ll throw an idea out for comments and we’ll see where it goes from there: elected officials have the ability to set conditions on new subdivisions when they are submitted for approval. These conditions are meant to be tied to the safety and welfare of the persons expected to occupy the subdivision and to facilitate the efficiency of providing utilities and services. For example, sometimes cul-de-sacs (or culs-de-sac – I was never sure which was the proper plural) are limited in length or not allowed in certain developments so that emergency vehicles (fire, ambulance, etc.) can reach a structure without being blocked by road construction, a fallen tree, or some other obstacle that results in two EMTs running with a gurney for 2,000 feet to get to someone’s house who just had a heart attack. So let’s look at this from the perspective of snow removal. What if Wausau started declaring snow storage locations in each subdivision? That is, the subdivision developer would plat a piece of ground in the subdivision as an easement to the city (much like an utility easement) where snow is to be pushed and stored when the streets are plowed. During the rest of the year, the spot would function as open space.
I already see several problems with this idea myself, but I am intentionally leaving them out to encourage discussion. Let’s see if we can come to a result that either supports the idea, or tells us it is a bad idea. Of course, other ideas and possible solutions are most welcome.