City snow removal crews were observed clearing snow at the Autumn Place Nursing Home over the past weekend.
Councilman Steve Dunlap, Chairman of the Street’s Committee was shopping in the auto part’s supply store on Saturday when a local resident brought the fact to his attention.
The street committee met on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
“We have been doing this at Medical Lodge and Autumn Place since I’ve been here,” said Public Works Superintendent Jim Burton. “Their snow was pushed by my predecessors also.”
Councilman Steve Dunlap strongly felt that Burton’s crews should not be clearing snow for the nursing homes.
“Columbus city crews should not be moving snow on private property,” he said. “I checked at Autumn Place and the parking lot was completely clean.”
Councilman Connie Bennett, the administrator at Autumn Place vehemently disagreed with Dunlap and said so.
“You’re a liar,” she emphatically said. “Our entire parking lot was not clean or cleared of all snow.”
Bennett further added that she has contracted with a private snow removal group to blade the Autumn Place parking lot and drive for future snowstorms.
Dunlap checked with Lamar and Webb City nursing homes over the past few days to see who was removing their snow.
“All of them have private contractors hired for their snow removal,” he said. “I just think our care facilities should do the same thing.”
Several councilmen and city officials brought up the point that the crews perhaps should clear an ambulance path to the front door of both nursing homes. Mayor Marie Nepple discussed what she and Columbus City Ambulance Manager Doug Mogle had gone over regarding deep snow.
“Doug (Mogle) said his ambulances can get through just about anything,” she said. “They go through deep snow on runs in the winter.”
Dunlap asked City Attorney Barbara Wright about Columbus work crews pushing snow on private property.
“Is this something they can and should do legally?” he asked.
“Yes, it probably is legal to remove snow on some private properties,” Wright said. “It was more than likely looked into in the past.”
Commenting on the former councils was Councilman Gary Smith.
“We set up for the crews to do the main drags and to make ambulance entrances to the nursing homes.”
Burton commented that the main roads do have problems with cars parked along the sides.
“Some of the residents don’t have a driveway, garage or anywhere to put their vehicle except on the street in front of their home.”
Councilman Grant Speith suggested having some of the main streets become snow routes to help with the problem of parked cars. A route designation would require residents to have their cars removed prior to the big snowstorms so crews could properly clear the streets.
“This would be something to consider,” said Speith. “The snowplow drivers could do their task correctly then.”
City Attorney Wright said that the council should have a public hearing on the matter, regarding the nursing homes, street priorities and snow routes.
“We should let the residents have a say in this,” she said.
The council will meet 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers. The committee will recommend to the council to have the public hearing on snow removal during the first council meeting in February.