GENEVA — The irony.
In the middle of summer, City Council spent considerable time Wednesday talking about winter issues of on-street parking and snow removal.
Assistant City Manager Adam Blowers said staff wants Council to consider dropping the winter parking regulations in place the past two years in favor of going back to the “old” system.
“A few years ago, we started a pilot program of temporarily allowing people to park their cars on city streets unless and until there is a snowstorm that requires plowing,” Blowers said. “We wanted to give a break because we know there are a lot of cars and limited off-street parking. We’d issue a notice of a snowstorm coming to move cars off the street so we can plow.”
Blowers said after two years, staff wants to go back to the old system of banning all on-street parking from Dec. 1 to April 1, except for certain streets designated for alternate side parking.
“We are not reaching people with our notification system for whatever reason. That process is taking a lot of staff time, much more than we thought, and involves police in ticketing and arranging for towing. It also lengthens plowing time for city crews,” Blowers said.
The old system prohibited on-street parking from 2 to 6 a.m. from Dec. 1 to April 1, except for streets where alternate side parking was allowed. That allowed people to park on opposite sides of the street each day. City plows would come back a second day after clearing streets to plow areas where those cars were parked overnight.
People had to sign up for notification through email or a text message when a snow emergency was being declared to find a place to park their vehicle other than on the street during snowfalls. Council was told that not all vehicle owners were notified, many tickets were issued and towing occurred, resulting in additional staff time and considerable verbal abuse from car owners who had to pay a ticket and pay to get their car from the towing company.
Four towing companies were used, including some with impound lots well outside the city.
Councilor Gordy Eddington supported keeping the pilot system, saying it could work well “if done correctly by doing a better job of notifying people of the snow emergency. If I had to vote, I’d vote to keep on with the pilot program.”
Also favoring the pilot program continuing were Councilors Paul D’Amico, Jason Hagerman, Ken Camera and Dana Hollenbeck, plus Mayor Ron Alcock. Councilor Mark Gramling said he’s in a “quandary” over the issue, saying he can see both sides. Councilors Steve Valentino and Angelina Marino were absent.
Despite the staff concerns, the consensus was to keep the pilot program for the upcoming winter season.
Council also voted 7-0 to approve a first reading of an ordinance amending the city code to require property owners to have their sidewalks clear of snow within 24 hours from the end of the snowfall event or face paying the cost of having city crews or contractors remove the snow. Currently, a notice must be sent to a property owner who is reported to be in violation. That give them seven days to remove the snow. Sidewalks in front of commercial establishments and commercial parking lots must be free of snow and ice at all times between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
If the snow has to be removed by the city or a private contractor hired by the city, the property owner would have 30 days to pay the cost or it will be added to their property tax bill.
Another proposed amendment to that section of the code would require removal of grass, weeds, rubbish or other obstructions from city sidewalks within seven days after being notified of the situation by the city. If not, the work would be done by city staff or a private contractor and the cost billed. If not paid in 30 days, it would be added to tax bills.
The amendments are modeled after similar language in the city of Canandaigua code.
In other action, Council voted unanimously to table action on a proposed new, five-year labor agreement with the Geneva Public Works Foremen’s Union Local 7582-01 for the period of Jan.1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2024. The 10 members of the union would be given 2 percent wage hikes in each of the five years, costing the city just over $202,000 over five years. The current contract expires Dec. 31.