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September 05, 2012 06:04 PM

Snow Gate Debate Making Way On To Ballot

sioux falls, sd

The snow gate debate is making its way to the ballot box. A citizen group launched a petition drive to put the snow gate question to voters in the spring.

Pieces of paper show the first signatures on a list to get the snow gate issue on the ballot.

“I say let the citizens vote on this now,” Theresa Stehly said. “We don't need to spend another year testing them. Let's go forward with it now.”

Stehly is leading the petition drive. She says putting a snow gate on every plow at every curb will contribute to a better quality of life for every Sioux Falls resident. It's why she wants residents to vote on it instead of letting the city council decide.

“The costs of buying snow gates themselves isn't that bad. But when you look at increasing snow removal time from 30-42 hours and adding the extra day to remove snow, the overtime, contractors used,” Sioux Falls City Councilor Dean Karsky said.

Karsky says he is surprised at the timing of the issue because the city has put so much time into testing the units. He would like to see that test finished before making the decisions. The group pushing for the gates says there has been enough of that already.

“Many of us feel that we know enough now. We know they're going to work. We know they'll cost a little bit more, but we have lots of projects in our community costing money,” Stehly said.

The preferred gate being tested costs a bit more than other gates the city has used the past two years. But Stehly says she's talked to the company who is willing to give the city a break if they implement the blades city wide.

So long before the snow flies, the air is already filled with questions. The biggest being if voters of the city will make the snow gate decision.

Stehly wants the question on a special election during this spring's upcoming school board election ballot.

The group plans to collect 5,500 signatures over the next six months.

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