“We will have snowbanks, and cutouts”
The Crested Butte Town Council recommended the policy regulating when and how the beloved snow banks on Elk Avenue should continue as the status quo during a regular meeting on Monday, despite hesitation from town staff who would like to see some changes made to the snow removal plan.
Monday’s discussion was a continuation of a lengthy debate from a previous meeting in December that found confusion among the staff and the council about when the Elk Avenue snow banks were to be removed and how many cutouts where expected along the street.
The current policy gives the town manager discretion about when the snow banks are to be removed but encourages them to remain unless they are exceedingly tall, are in poor condition, or a large storm is expected. The policy also includes providing 50 or so cutouts for the businesses and restaurants along the street.
Cutouts are walkways cut into the snow banks for pedestrian access to businesses.
Town staff previously recommended removing the snow banks on a more regular basis because of concerns over public safety, snow storage, and labor related to cutouts.
However, members of the Town Council objected to getting rid of the snow banks and has made it clear they want them to remain unless they need to be taken down, since they are part of what makes the town’s character and look so distinctive.
“I like the snow banks, I like having them, and we shouldn’t take them down for no reason,” Crested Butte mayor Alan Bernholtz said when defending the policy.
Parks and recreation director Bob Piccaro recommended reducing the number of cutouts along Elk Avenue to relieve his department of additional labor that delays opening of the ice rink.
He recommended cutting out only 14 strategic locations early in the morning to assist with deliveries and pedestrian traffic and then returning later in the afternoon to cut the remaining 24. The Town Council agreed to the change, but reminded Piccaro to be “sensitive” to the needs of the businesses located on Elk Avenue.
“The cutouts are good for business,” Bernholtz told Piccaro.
Town manager Susan Parker said the town would make every effort to follow the direction of the council but would have to work within the town’s resources and labor constraints, noting many of the town’s employees have worked 60- and 70-hour work weeks during the recent storms.
Town Council member Leah Williams said she felt the two discussions were productive and provided some insight for everyone involved. In addition to Piccaro’s presentation, public works director Eddy Balch also shared with the council the town’s snow removal policy and noted removing the snow banks on Elk is the department’s last plowing priority during a snow event.
“It’s nice now that we all have a point of reference for plowing and snow removal priorities,” Williams said.
Bernholtz agreed with Williams and said he was comfortable with the stated policy.
“I am fine with giving public works the discretion with pulling the banks, but if (the snowbanks) can look how they look now then they should stay,” Bernholtz said.