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After failed snow plowing plan, St. Paul residents call for meeting with officials

Poor conditions on side streets persist weeks after an early January snow event, leading to an apology from the Public Works Department.

ST PAUL, Minn. — People in St. Paul didn’t hold back at a meeting Monday night to address recent snow plowing problems.

The messy roads are some of the worst in recent memory and despite attempts to clear them, poor conditions on side streets persist after an early January snowfall.

Members of the Public Works Department joined the meeting at Arlington Hills Community Center, which was organized by Nelsie Yang for her ward to discuss snow plowing, as well as delayed trash pick-up. 

Joan Ballanger has lived on the east side for more than 40 years and calls this latest plow problem unacceptable. 

"I don’t ever remember a snowfall like we had this time," said Ballanger. "Those roads are horrendous in comparison to anything I can ever remember."

Public Works Department Director Sean Kershaw apologized last week for the messy streets, saying the department focuses on main roads first. He also said that street parking and alley systems present unique problems for the department.

Residents who spoke out suggested plowing right after it snows, rather than waiting, as well as plowing all the way to the pavement. Some also suggested allocating more money to plowing and better communication for people whose first language isn’t English, while nearly everyone said they were concerned for their safety.

“I cannot leave the house because it’s so icy and not only is that detrimental to my physical health, but my mental health as well," said one resident.

Kershaw says the department is down six drivers and it’s working on filling those vacancies, along with updating its software to help make routes more efficient.

"I’m glad you guys are doing this, but it shouldn’t come to this," said another resident about the meeting. "It's unacceptable and I hate that there's no accountability."

That sentiment was shared among the people at the meeting, including Ballanger, who hopes this gets resolved in time for the next snowstorm.

"I just think it gives people an opportunity to air what they want to say and say it to who they believe can help them," said Ballanger.

Trask pick-up is another issue discussed at the meeting. The city is reminding people that carts should never be in the street during a snow emergency or otherwise. The snow, though, is causing trash delays and residents suggested haulers better communicate when pick-up will be late and that residents receive a refund if it's not picked up.

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