City of Rhinelander wants public input on sidewalk snow removal plan
While people are enjoying this beautiful fall weather in the Northwoods, city planners are already focusing on this winter.
More than 120 inches of snow fell in Rhinelander last winter.
That meant a lot of shoveling and snowblowing.
In the city, property owners are responsible for clearing the sidewalk along their property.
If someone doesn’t clear the sidewalk, the city will come out and do it, but the homeowner faces a $150 charge.
Patrick Reagen started as Rhinelander’s City Administrator in February. Even halfway through winter, he noticed not everyone kept up with the snowfall.
“We had some snows and we had issues with people not clearing their sidewalk. That combined with watching people try to fight through it, You feel kind of bad for these people who don't have a car and using a sidewalk as their only means of conveyance,” said Reagen.
The city’s been trying to come up with solutions to get the sidewalk cleared more quickly.
One solution that’s being considered is hiring someone to clear the snow.
The position would be paid for by a special assessment, a tax on the properties that would be affected by this.
“It really started with, how do we make the community more walkable? How do we allow people who may not have a car to get to the grocery store, to get to the doctor's appointment, to get to their job, especially when you've had a bunch of snow?” said Reagen.
The initial proposal focuses on some of the more high-traffic sidewalks in the city.
It includes Lincoln Street, from the bypass to Oneida Avenue; Courtney Street, from Oneida Avenue to Timber Drive; Pelham, from Courtney to Anderson; Stevens, from Pelham to Iverson; and Timber, from Stevens to Coolidge.
Before the city gets too far along with the plan, Reagen wants to hear what community members think of it.
“We want to involve the citizens, the residents, especially those who are going to be impacted by this. Get their feelings, get their thoughts, see what they think,” he said.
Property owners along the sidewalks in those areas should be receiving a letter from the city inviting them to public meetings at Rhinelander City Hall.
The meetings are September 28th and October 5th from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
“We want to do this in a measured approach. I've never been a fan of having projects like this, and just being like, ‘This is what it is, now you learn to live with it.’ We don't want to be that way. We want to involve the citizens, the residents, especially those who are going to be impacted by this, get their feelings, get their thoughts, see what they think.”
At this point, Reagen doesn’t have an estimate of how much the special assessment would cost.
He stressed the plan is in the early stages.
City Council has not been asked to consider a special assessment. Reagen wants to see what community members think of the plan before moving forward with it.