The harsh days of winter are hopefully behind us but Oak Harbor officials are already looking to curtail problems created by snow next year.
Village council is considering expanding the number of streets posted with snow emergency signs to include all streets within the corporation limits. Those signs state that when snowfall exceeds 2 inches all vehicles must be moved from the public pavement. This ensures snow plow drivers can pass through the area without being forced to maneuver around vehicles and can more efficiently clear the street.
The discussion grew out of complaints received by councilwoman Sue Rahm regarding snow piled up around several cars on a stretch of Water Street, from Maple Street to Finke Road.
“It’s a nightmare for neighbors. It’s in the village but it’s a state road,” Rahm explained.
Police Chief Steve Weirich opined: “It should be all the streets.”
In the wake of heavy snow, dispatchers and officers are run ragged trying to call residents, run license plates and knock on doors in the effort to have people move their vehicles, he said.
Violators’ vehicles are towed at their expense. A police-ordered tow can start at $100, according to Bill Edge of Bill’s Towing, who is contracted to move the vehicles. They are towed to a yard located off State Route 163. Owners need to provide proof of ownership and a valid driver’s license to recover their vehicles.
Council recently directed solicitor Jim Barney to draft legislation that would place all streets under the snow emergency category in the event of snowfall of 2 inches or more.
But Weirich said the effort has hit a snag.
Barney called him later to say that despite the legislation the police department would still be required to alert news media and make phone calls when enacting the snow emergency status.
“If it doesn’t kick in automatically what is the point,” Weirich said. “Sometimes the snow falls late at night or early in the morning before we can get those alerts out and people are gone already.”
Weirich said he plans to explore the topic by talking to other police chiefs and municipal administrators.
Edge said the phone didn’t ring all season for a municipal tow.
“Well, you know, we had one of the nastiest winters we’ve seen in a while and we didn’t have one police-ordered tow,” Edge said. “I questioned a few. I wondered why they let them set. If the street department’s not complaining, I guess they let it go. This police chief has been a little more lenient about the tows than others in the past.”