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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Jamie Ausk Crisafulli photo

Subdivision streets will be plowed

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

 

The snow has piled up high on the streets of the West Glendive subdivisions, and the Dawson County Commissioners have decided to have the streets plowed

“We’re going to have to look at the streets out there, it’s getting pretty critical” Commissioner Doug Buxbaum said at Tuesday’s commission meeting. “If we get anymore snow we’re going to have to look at doing something with those streets out there. It’s hard for people to get out of Forest Park.”

Buxbaum said that so far only one person has called  him directly complaining about snow removal, but by Thursday, the commissioners decided the West Glendive subdivisions couldn’t wait any longer for plowing. 

“Right now, it’s getting dangerous out there. It’s rutty and ice-patched,” Buxbaum said Thursday. “It’s a safety issue.”

As the roads in the subdivision belong to the residents themselves, and not the county, the county is under no obligation to perform snow removal. The county has acted to have snow removed in the West Glendive subdivisions before, though Buxbaum noted “it’s been quite some time” since that last happened.

The reason it hasn’t been done already — and why the commissioners did not want to unless they felt it was absolutely necessary — is the payment for that would come out of the subdivisions’ street maintenance funds. Those funds are already severely limited and the streets in both Forest Park and Highland Park have a laundry list of maintenance needs.

“We’d rather save the money and use it for (street) patching, but this has to be done,” Commissioner Gary Kartevold said on Thursday.

The county has asked for bids from three private contractors to plow all the streets in Forest Park and 1st and 2nd streets in Highland Park. Buxbaum said they do not have a solid figure for the cost yet, and though he said the cost would not be so great as to severely deplete either subdivisions’ maintenance fund, he did note that it would cost “a pretty penny.”

Of course, Buxbaum added, if an official neighborhood advisory council was active and had voted to spend their limited street maintenance funds on snow removal, thecounty would have already done so. 

He again reiterated the commissioners’ discomfort with making unilateral decisions about how to spend the subdivisions’ maintenance funds. Though the commissioners administer the funds, legally the maintenance funds and all the subdivisions’ streets belong to the residents themselves.

The problem is, Buxbaum said, that in the wake of a December meeting between the commissioners and Forest Park and Highland Park residents at which the commissioners implored both subdivisions to create an advisory council, no such body has formed.

Following that Dec. 12 meeting, Forest Park resident Tom Toomey began leading the charge to try and form an advisory council for that subdivision. Buxbaum said Toomey — with the county’s blessing — mailed out over 300 letters to Forest Park residents asking for volunteers to serve on an advisory council, but to no avail.

“He’s not at this time received one letter back from people volunteering for the committee or willing to help at all,” Buxbaum said. “They’re making quite an effort to get something organized, but it’s not happening. What are you going to do?”

Buxbaum added that the commissioners are unaware of any effort by any Highland Park residents to form an advisory council.

As for the upcoming snow removal, the commissioners have set this Wednesday, Jan. 11 as the start date, and ask that all Forest Park residents and Highland Park residents along 1st and 2nd streets have all vehicles, trailers or other equipment moved off the street. The county intends to send notice to all residents immediately prior to the work beginning. The plowing and snow removal is expected to take two to three days, Buxbaum said.

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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