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October 13, 2012 09:55 PM

Huether: Patience With Snow Gates

Sioux Falls, SD

The official start of fall was only a couple of weeks ago, but winter seems to be on a lot of people's minds around Sioux Falls. A petition to put snow gates on the ballot is gathering thousands of signatures. But as the season for snow gets closer, Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether says citizens need to remain patient despite their enthusiasm.

In the fall of 2010, Huether took $12,000 out of the city's budget to pay for two snow gates. It was a controversial decision at the time since that money wasn't originally set aside for the gates.

"I took some heat from some people on the city council for doing the test," Huether said. "They thought it was out of line, but I was listening and learning from the people of this town."

2010 was an especially strong winter but 2011 wasn't as great.

"The first year was a great year for testing with all the snow that we had," Huether said. "Last year was pretty much a dud."

That's why Huether wants to test the snow gates for a third straight season. And while he's well aware of a petition going around town, he cautions those who are eager to see the gates become permanent.

"You want to do it because people are excited, but you want to do it in a prudent way, in a responsible way, and you want to do it right," Huether said. "And that's ultimately what we'll do."

Huether says the data gathered this winter will provide a bigger picture to how effective the gates truly are. And while he took some heat two years ago, he's glad the support for snow gates hasn't cooled off.

"It validates the decision that testing was something that people wanted and I think, ultimately, we'll roll this out for the City of Sioux Falls."

After this third test run, Huether says he could make a recommendation to the city as early as March. The specific areas of the third test zone will be known at some point in the next few weeks.

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