The Watertown Public Works, Finance and Safety Committee met on Monday night and one of the items on the agenda concerned the use of snow gates by the Street Department.
Ultimately, the decision came down to cost versus benefit.
According to Street Department Superintendent Rob Beynon, the gates cost the city about $8,000 each and have become a maintenance problem as they begin to age.
Beynon was looking for guidance from the committee of whether to move forward with a request to add more gates or discontinue their use altogether.
In December of 2019, as well as July of 2020, Beynon and Public Works Director, Heath VonEye presented information to the City Council about snow gates, the benefits and their limitations of how they function, and overall pros and cons regarding their use. At those council meetings discussion was also held regarding the option of either expanding or eliminating snow gates within the city.
During the meeting Monday night more concerns about speed and efficiency while using the snow gates on street department vehicles was discussed. In addition, Beynon said snow gates have not been effective when there is a slight wind or heavier amounts of snow, particularly over six inches.
He said they are also not easily used in various parts of the city, such as around Lake Kampeska where driveways are close together and heavy snowpack becomes an issue.
According to Beynon, it is estimated that only 70% of Watertown’s residents benefit currently from the snow gates and those are the people who live in the “Core” part of the city.
During the meeting, Mayor Sarah Caron asked Beynon how its decided where the snow gates are used…
Beynon was asked by Mayor Caron if the extra expense of outfitting the street department vehicles with snow gates is worth the extra cost…..
Council Woman Beth Mantey said after hearing the discussion about the gates, she favored not using them….
Beynon said without the use of the snow gates, street department workers could plow anywhere between 3-7 mph faster, allowing roads to be opened quicker.
Councilman Don Roby echoed Mantey’s comments about not favoring the use of the gates….
After further discussion, the council voted 8-1 to discontinue the use of the snow gates effective immediately.