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Milwaukee Aldermen call out pace of snow removal 'simply unacceptable'

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Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 18:43:07-05

CITY OF MILWAUKEE — As snow remains on many streets in the City of Milwaukee, two members of the Common Council are criticizing efforts to clear roadways as "simply unacceptable."

Aldermen Khalif J. Rainey and Russell W. Stamper, II issued a statement Tuesday to bring attention to what they see as a weakness in the Department of Public Works' duty to ensure snow does not linger on public roads following major storms.

The Aldermen note that many neighborhood streets across the city "are a mess," 72 hours after the snow began falling last Saturday evening.

"Our residents are – AGAIN – fending for themselves as they use their own shovels and snow blowers to dig out from the snow, doing the job that DPW apparently isn’t up to doing!" according to their statement.

Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske issued his own statement Tuesday, writing that his department recognizes residents' desire to get "back to normal," but that the winter storm "was anything but normal."

"We are up against Mother Nature, and she has hit us with the deepest snow we’ve seen in a decade. The magnitude of this storm created some unique challenges for addressing some of our narrow and highly parked streets," Polenske writes.

The commissioner explains that crews have had to deploy special equipment small enough to navigate narrow streets, an operation that is time-consuming.

"We appreciate the public’s patience as we continue to deploy all available personnel and equipment to tackle these severe conditions. We also ask for the public’s assistance by complying with the City’s winter parking regulations so that we can plow the streets in the most effective and timely manner," according to Commissioner Polenske.

But the Aldermen say their offices have been bombarded with complaints from concerned residents since the storm. They also question whether the Department of Public Works was prepared for the amount of snow we received, and encouraged residents to pass their concerns onto the department directly.

"We intend to hold departments accountable for delivering services at a level necessary to help our citizens, and we will certainly be doing that in this case. We appreciate the calls and complaints from residents, and we strongly encourage those to continue, so that we can pass them along to the DPW leadership and hold the department accountable," Rainey and Stamper write.

The Aldermen do point out that streets of downtown Milwaukee have been mostly cleared, while many neighborhoods "barely get a single plow pass."

On social media Tuesday, the department issued a statement, writing crews are working around the clock to make sure more on-street parking is available for residents.

"Crews are focused on clearing and pushing back snow to the curb line throughout MKE. Working around the ⏰, operations continue today to make more on-street parking spaces available, esp. on the narrow, heavily parked residential streets. We started clearing the 59 miles of city-owned sidewalks and garbage collection resumes today," according to the department.

The department also warned residents that they need to move their vehicles to the even-side of streets and not on main streets from 10 p.m. Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday in an effort to clear the remaining snow. Head to their website here for more information.

Milwaukee is in for another wallop of snow this Thursday, it seems.

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