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Steve Gehrtz, Published February 19 2013

Letter: City of Moorhead not responsible for all city snow-removal glitches

In my brief time in public office, I have learned that sometimes you need to defend your actions but also be able to accept criticism when it is due. I feel that the city of Moorhead is getting the criticism that is not totally its fault.

The city spent considerable funds for a parking study to help eliminate the parking problems around the campuses. The city had input from university and college officials, neighbors, homeowners, city staff and students. One of the conclusions from the study was enhanced snow removal in the winter to allow parking on both sides of the streets near the college and university campuses. With the enhanced snow removal, the stakeholders were very clear that if towing of vehicles was necessary, then the cars violating the policy should get their vehicles towed. In addition, the city posted signs (two per city block on both sides of the street) and there were news media stories, social media implementation and notification of college and university officials as well as warnings on cars the night prior to the enhanced snow removal.

According to a Jan. 30 article in The Forum, Minnesota State University Moorhead’s public safety director said the email was delayed due to internal communication issues about which department should send it out. MSUM students were not notified until after the towing had begun. Had MSUM notified the students when they were initially notified, I am sure a lot more students would have been aware of the street cleaning/towing process. The city does not have access to the server for the campus; we need to rely on them to do their part.

We have since built additional redundancies in the communication process for the next snow declaration so that more people are more informed. Nevertheless, it is still discouraging that to date only about 200 people have subscribed to the city’s snow declaration notification. I urge residents in nearby campus neighborhoods, students, faculty and other visitors to our city’s campus areas to subscribe to the alerts at www.cityofmoorhead.com/snowdistrict/ via email, Facebook and/or Twitter.

We acknowledge that our students are a valuable asset to our community, and there are numerous examples where they have contributed to our city in a positive fashion. Each year 3,000 to 4,000 incoming freshmen are new to our college and universities. With that comes making sure that we have the streets plowed as wide as we can to allow parking on both sides of the street.

Gehrtz represents the 4th Ward on the Moorhead City Council.