As 2 a.m. rolled around on Sunday, Feb. 24, Perry Public Works employees were out in force to clear snow from city streets. It was the second time that week that the public works department were out to fight the white stuff.
January and February have been a challenge for Perry and surrounding towns as the snow hasn’t let up.
“This winter is kind of setting its own records here,” said Jack Butler, Perry Public Works Director.
During a typical winter, he said it snows, warms up and melts before it snows again. This winter hasn’t followed that pattern.
Butler said that creates additional problems as the snow just keeps piling up. Two particular streets where that has been an issue, he added, is 30th and 31st Street.
Residents have shoveled their snow up on the curb and the snow plows have shoved even more snow on them. Butler said a big truck went down and knocked out the center of the street. A snow blower got right against the curb to clean it up. And then three dump trucks were used to haul the snow away.
“That was the only way to clean it, there was no place to push it. It makes work a lot harder when we get this much snow,” Butler said with a laugh.
The City of Perry hires Repp Construction to come in with the dump trucks to move that snow. They then haul the snow to one of the parking lots at Pattee Park. This year, the parking lot is almost completely full.
When that parking lot is full, Butler said they will move to a second parking lot near the tennis courts at the park.
“If we start dumping there this weekend or next week, that will be the second time in 20 years that we’ve had that much snow that we’ve done that,” he added.
And more snow is forecasted for this weekend.
Butler said their magic number to start clearing that snow is 2 a.m. It takes the crew around 4 ½ to 5 hours to clear the town.
The crew starts clearing the downtown with four pickups. Those pickups also clear the alleys and City of Perry parking lots.
Four big dump trucks with blades then run routes through the town. Butler said those trucks are responsible for clearing 66 lane miles through town. Each street takes four passes to clear, so Butler said that number climbs to 264 miles.
The City of Perry also has salt trucks that go out as needed. Butler said they had over 500 tons of salt in their building. So far, he added they have burned through about half of it.
“This last month has been a run, but we’re not sitting in trouble with anything,” Butler said. “If it finishes out March and into April like this where every three or four days we’re doing big storms, we might be in some trouble with the budget.”
For now, he added the crews will be doing their best to clear the streets when it snows.
Butler encourages the residents to pay attention to the snow ordinance and move their vehicle off the street when it it set to snow more than a half inch.
“Just to be patient with us. That’s the biggest thing. We’re going to just keep plugging away,” Butler said.
He added that it helps having a crew willing to come in extra early to move snow and keep the city streets clear.
“We’ve got a good group of guys, I would put them up against anybody as far as cleaning streets,” Butler said. “It’s all Perry boys and they take pride in their streets and what they do.”