Thursday, February 23, 2012

Storm of Helpful Neighbors

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
When we get an upslope snow storm, Town staff monitors weather reports to see how much snow we can expect. Our Public Works manager schedules plow drivers, and ensures that the necessary fuel and equipment is prepared. Throughout the storm, there is open communication between Public Works, the fire department and police.

While all of this is going on, the community goes into "acceptance mode", or what I call Ned Time. People work from home, start a pot of chili, and put some logs in the fireplace. The kids pull out the sleds and skis.

Each storm is different. In the case of our recent 3-foot storm, the canyon was clear, schools were closed, and it was ideal conditions for kids to try out their Christmas ski gear. So, the parking lots at Eldora Mountain Resort filled up and they began shuttling even more excited skiers from the Park-N-Ride.

The greatest thing I noticed during this storm was Nederland's helping hand spirit coming out once again. Through a couple of strange coincidences, I got my car stuck twice (that's twice out of the three times I have been stuck in 12 years). I was helped by a neighbor in both cases. I am very appreciative. Some people said, "You're the Mayor, why didn't you ask Public Works to pull you out?" The answer is, though I am the Mayor, I am one of the 1,500 residents of Nederland. It is Public Works' job to serve the community as a whole.

We received several calls, e-mails, and Facebook comments during and after the storm, seeking help for roads and other snow removal service. Public Works responded to these requests, helping the community to get back to normal as quickly as they were able. Several residents praised the job Public Works did in clearing and widening the roads after our big storm. Others thought we could do better. All of these comments have been passed on to the department, and improvements are being made as needed.

During a snow event, large or small, the priority is to keep the major roads open for emergency vehicles. It can be very difficult when cars are parked on the roadside to maintain the width needed to keep roads passable. After the main routes are open, Public Works moves to secondary routes, and then, the third priority is cul-de-sacs and parking lots. The preferred method of plowing is to make a pass in each direction, starting at the center and working out to keep the roads as wide as possible. During a heavy storm, roads can become choked by piling snow on the sides of the roads, which then require large machinery to push back and widen. With some of the older equipment and some equipment that is in need of major repair, keeping all plows on the road during a storm is often difficult. With this winter being the first winter of plowing for some of the crew and the first time plowing the streets and roads of Nederland for others, there is a bit of a learning curve.

I want to offer my praise to both the department for their excellent work, but also to the members of our community who helped their neighbors plow driveways and otherwise "unbury" from the storm. Mountain people are a special breed. We choose to live in this beautiful place, knowing that sometimes it will be inconvenient. We look for every opportunity to lend a helping hand. We won’t pass a neighbor needing our help.

If you need help, call Town Hall at (303) 258-3266. We are here for you. Thank you all for being there for your neighbors, and a special thanks to my neighbors for helping me out.

[Here is a Video Valediction] with The Doors – Riders on the Storm from their 1971 album, L.A. Woman. [What is a Video Valediction?]
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