NORWALK, Conn. – This is a press release, presented in the format in which it was sent:
Mayor Rilling Lays Out Improved Snow Removal Plans
Norwalk’s Mayor Harry W. Rilling, today announced changes to the City’s snow removal strategy. “Although it’s near the 70s today, snow season is right around the corner,” Mayor Rilling reminded residents. “My staff has been working together with the Board of Education and parent groups to identify solutions to issues which have frustrated parents and residents in past storms.”
The Department of Public Works (DPW) is currently responsible for plowing all City streets (630 lane miles), 22 City owned and school parking lots and 6 miles of sidewalks; Recreation and Parks Department (Parks) is responsible for plowing the public parks, shoveling City sidewalks, and 11 miles of school sidewalks. Residents are responsible for removing snow from their own sidewalks, including bus stops on private property. In order to more efficiently accomplish this huge task, DPW and Parks will combine staff and equipment during snow emergencies, both will be deployed from a single operations center enabling more coordinated timing of snow removal and a more efficient deployment of resources.
Norwalk High and Brien McMahon High School begin early in the morning and are also the most time consuming schools to clear. As a result, the City and school district are exploring the possibility of using surplus Board of Education funds from 2016-17 for a pilot program that would contract out plowing for one or two high school parking lot. This would allow an additional five hours and give three city plow trucks the opportunity to focus on other schools and roads.
During snow events, the Superintendent’s Office, DPW and Parks will participate in an early morning conference call to discuss local conditions and progress of snow clearing operations. This call will better inform the decision to delay or cancel schools.
The City and Norwalk Public Schools will increase efforts to inform residents on how they can contribute to City and NPS snow removal efficiency. The City and NPS will widely publicize snow policies – including information on shoveling sidewalks within 24 hours of the storm, no parking in school and City Hall parking lots during snow emergencies, and reminders to park cars in driveways if possible.
Additionally, the Mayor’s Office and Norwalk Public Schools are working with Norwalk’s Parent Teacher Organization Council (PTOC) to engage the community to assist with snow removal on problem sidewalks on school routes and bus stops. The PTOC is investigating an Adopt-a-Bus-Stop program. The PTOs will help identify the most problematic bus stops, and will work to enlist commercial and private volunteers to take responsibility for them. Signage, web and social media acknowledgements will promote and sustain the program.
“Many of our students walk to school each day, even when snowy conditions are present. We are pleased to partner with the City and parents to make sure that these students have a clear place to wait for the bus, and safe routes to walk,” said Board of Education Facilities Committee Chair Michael Barbis.
“We believe the increased coordination and cooperation between the various City and Board of Education departments and parent groups will enable our community to better “weather-the-storm” this winter,” said Mayor Rilling.
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