Published December 05 2013
Forum editorial: Put more into snow removalOf all the issues that were debated during last month’s Moorhead municipal election, the most common complaint was the city’s lousy snow removal record. Nearly every candidate interviewed by The Forum’s Editorial Board said they heard that concern more than any other as they knocked on doors in the city’s four wards.
It should be no surprise, therefore, that leaders of Moorhead and other cities of the metro know that with growth – and Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo all are growing – comes an ever-escalating need to extend basic services. Nothing is more basic in the Red River Valley of the North than efficient and timely snow removal from thoroughfares and streets. Yet, as a Wednesday Forum report suggested, the cities’ snow removal capacities are lagging behind the growth of commercial districts and residential neighborhoods. The situation varies from city to city, but all three cities seem to be struggling to match snow-removal prowess with accelerating growth.
It’s an explosive issue in a metro that depends on open avenues and streets every day. It can have consequences at election time. Indeed, perception of poor snow removal was one of the issues that doomed incumbents in Moorhead. In Fargo (and to a lesser extent in West Fargo) complaints about long delays clearing side streets and residential neighborhoods are not yet at crisis levels but are getting louder and more legitimate every year.
To their credit, the cities are putting more resources into snowplowing, but not enough. Fargo, for example, has added wings to plow trucks as one way of maximizing the efficiency of the machines. It’s working, sort of. West Fargo has added public works staff and equipment, but snow removal delays, especially in the new districts south of Interstate 94, have become routine. Moorhead has in fact lost public works staff and relies on seasonal labor, a strategy that obviously has not satisfied residents.
The cities will continue to grow. More street lane miles will be added to snow-removal routes. More homeowners and businesses will expect – demand – thoroughfares and side streets be cleared quickly and efficiently. That is not too much to ask from well-managed cities that must count snow removal among their primary public works obligations.
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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.