Our View: Snow removal

Posted: March 8, 2013

City Manager Dale Iman’s “mantra,” duly incorporated in Winchester’s long-range strategic plan, is “Plan to work, work to plan.”

Thus, when the city’s performance during a series of snowfalls in late December prompted criticism from residents — some of which found its way to this page — Mr. Iman and city staff took concerted action to prevent any further inattention to detail.

And so this week, when Old Man Winter decided to throw his weight around one last time (hopefully), the city had a “battle plan.” And it showed.

Specifically, that working model is called Snow Plan B, the core element of which directs residents to remove all vehicles from streets designated “snow emergency routes.” In truth, the brainstorming started long before City Hall put Snow Plan B into effect on Tuesday.

“We did some reviewing and tweaking (after the December snows),” Mr. Iman told us Thursday. “Or what might be called clarification.”

In terms of specifics, not only were areas of responsibility — e.g., sidewalks, the Green Circle Trail, Jim Barnett Park — thoroughly reviewed, but the city also purchased some new equipment, most notably a plow for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Thus, when the first flakes began to fall, city workers — specifically Public Works Division Manager Tom Denney and his crew — were more than ready. And so were their 16 pieces of equipment. Poised for action at 8 p.m. Tuesday, drivers and plows hit the streets around 10:30 p.m., Mr. Iman said, and kept going — often working in tandem on critical emergency routes blessedly free of parked cars.

The same dogged mindset prevailed elsewhere, Mr. Iman said. When he passed through at 9 a.m., the sidewalks around City Hall had already been cleared. By 4 p.m., the same could be said of the roads and sidewalks in Jim Barnett and, likewise that afternoon, the Green Circle Trail.

Mr. Iman admits luck played a partnering role in this endeavor. For starters, the region had advance notice of the storm, providing even further opportunity to plan and prepare. Second, nature intervened beneficently, in the form of warming temperatures — first, on Tuesday, immediately before the storm, and then again early Wednesday when the thermometer rose after the first rounds of plowing, thus denying the storm what Mr, Iman called “further traction.”

Finally, the city encountered no “major problems” as the snow blew through — no power outages, minimal tree damage, and just a couple of minor traffic accidents.

But then, as a famous baseball man, Branch Rickey, once said, “Luck is the residue of design.” And this time the city has its “design” down pat.

“Plan to work, work to plan” — as Mr. Iman said, Winchester’s late-winter performance lent ample “testimony” to that “mantra.”