Snow-covered streets, towed cars anger city residents

An Appleton resident wrote in to The Post-Crescent’s editor this week complaining about the city’s snow emergency parking ban after last Wednesday’s storm.

He was one of the 42 cars towed overnight by way of the city’s Class III emergency rules.snowcars

The man said the city “hijacked his car out of the street at night” and that Mayor Tim Hanna is allowing the tow companies to “get away with theft.”

He and his girlfriend got hit with a $20 police fine, $189 tow fee, plus $30 a day storage fee. Ouch.

Hanna doesn’t have much sympathy for the drivers that somehow missed the city’s messages that are posted in advance on their website, Facebook account and local news outlets such as Post-Crescent Media.

“We don’t set the towing rates,” Hanna said. “Mainly it’s for local businesses to have their parking lanes and for our plows to get as close to the curb as possible.”

Alderman Ed Baranowski said he also heard from residents this winter complaining about snowy side streets that “are like driving down a washboard.”

Baranowski allowed time at Wednesday’s council meeting for Public Works Director Paula Vandehey to defend the city’s storm response.

She said the city uses salt and brine to melt ice and snow, but when the temperatures drop below zero they become ineffective.

“We prioritize our efforts to hills and bridges, then arterial and collector streets and then finally local roads,” Vandehey said. “The reason we get to local roads last is they have the least amount of traffic and travel at the lowest speeds.”

Vandehey also pointed out the city doesn’t have a “dry pavement” policy, meaning streets are totally cleared, and that safe travel is the goal.

Baranowski said he heard from some residents frustrated when neighbors called the city to complain about unshoveled sidewalks when the street itself had not been plowed.

To view the city’s plowing plan and current operations, visit its “Winter Page” at http://bit.ly/XSugtC.

— Nick Penzenstadler: 920-996-7226, or npenzenstadler@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @npenzenstadler

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