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November 27, 2012 06:11 PM

Snow Gate Debate Goes A Step Further

Sioux Falls, SD

Although there still isn't any snow here in Sioux Falls, those in charge of its removal are already looking ahead.

People who want the city to use special plows called "snow gates" handed in more 8,000 signatures on Tuesday.  They want the idea to go to a public vote.

Even though snow gates seem to have overwhelming support, city officials have a few concerns.

"We believe if we left it to the council, the decision would be no. That's why we want it to go to a public vote. And we've worked very hard to get over 8,300 signatures," petition organizer Theresa Stehly said.

This will be the third year for the city's snow gate test.  What the city has learned so far are the specially-equipped plows take more time to operate than traditional plows.

"So this will certainly take longer for me to get in and clean out residential streets. So somebody's going to be first and somebody's going to be last. The people that are on the tail end of the cleanup that might be a little bit discouraged by it because it's taking longer to get through the entire city," Sioux Falls Street Dept. official Galen Huber said.

However, Stehly and her fellow supporters don't think this will be a long-term issue.

"Once they get the hang of this, we have every confidence that these snow plow operators are going to use these with great ease and effectiveness," Stehly said.

Six new neighborhoods will experience snow gates this season.  The results will be presented to the city council in April.

"We have to make a determination on if they work, how much it is going to cost?  Is that something that the city's willing to pay for, if they work, for that additional cost," Huber said.

Stehly says she believes the residents of Sioux Falls are ready to make the commitment.

"I think it says people are really excited about the snow gate issue. The service of doing the snow removal that we already have, more effectively and more efficiently for the people," Stehly said.

Huber says a third year of testing is needed since last winter was so dry.  Stehly hopes to have the issue paired with the school board election in the spring of 2013.

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