Oak Park looks to get back to normal following storm

Village answers lingering questions 24 hours after snow stopped falling

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

It's been more than 24 hours since snow stopped falling, in a blizzard that left 20 inches of fluffy white stuff in its wake, shutting down schools, village hall and the public library. The snow remains, but everything else appears to be returning to normal a day later.

Here's a quick breakdown of where village services stand as of late Thursday afternoon:

Is every road clear? As of 3 p.m. today, every street and alley in Oak Park has been plowed, according to Village Manager Tom Barwin. Crews are now looking to circle back and go through all 150 miles of village alleys a second time.

Oak Park is also digging out any bridges or pedestrian walkways, and will then start plowing the 117 parking lots across town this evening, Barwin said.

"I doubt that we'll get it all done tonight," Barwin said. "So that work will continue until we finish it, and it may take us through the weekend."

Where's all this snow going to go? Snow lifted from those 117 lots will then be transported and deposited at the empty lots at Lake and Forest and at Madison and Grove. Barwin expects the piled flurries to remain there until they melt.

When can I park on the street? Parking bans remained in effect across Oak Park as of Thursday afternoon. Those forbid drivers from depositing their vehicles on major streets labeled as "snow routes," and confine cars on residential streets to only one side of the road.

The bans will stay in place until Oak Park's public works director declares streets completely passable, according to village spokesman David Powers. Oak Park has yet to ticket or tow anyone for violating the ban, but the village may need to start relocating cars in order to completely plow parking lots. Any moved vehicles would be shuffled over to the Cavalry Church parking lot on Lake Street.

Powers said the village will not issue any tickets to overnight parking permit holders for parking outside of their zone while plowing is taking place.

When's my garbage getting picked up? After taking Wednesday off, Waste Management resumed picking up garbage at single-family homes and multi-family buildings of five units or less this morning. The waste hauler is now a day behind, according to Barwin, but it plans to work Saturday in order to catch up.

And what about my mail? Mail carriers attempted to make some rounds Wednesday, but didn't get very far, according to postal service spokesman Sean Hargagon. Full service has resumed today in Oak Park and River Forest, though some mail carriers may skip certain residences if sidewalks and steps aren't cleared.

"With a carrier, it's all about safety," Hargagon said. "If they don't feel safe going up to a certain spot, they don't have to make that delivery."

How much is this all going to cost? Numbers are still being tallied, but as of Thursday, Barwin is estimating that storm cleanup efforts have cost Oak Park about $100,000. That includes overtime hours, hiring outside contractors to help and repairing three snowplows that overheated.

However, Village President David Pope slapped his signature on a declaration that Oak Park is a disaster area, and the village hopes that it can recoup most of its costs for the dig out.

Reader Comments

27 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

OP Resident  

Posted: February 5th, 2011 10:35 PM

Somebody dropped the ball. This evening, TV6 is airing an "infomercial" produced by the Village Of Oak Park detailing all you need to know about the Snow Emergency Plan. You learn who to call, where to park & plowing updates. Exactly the message that should have been on the air as soon as officials knew the blizzard was heading this way. The Public Works crews did a fine job but the person charged with keeping the community informed via TV6, the Village website and our local media was MIA.

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 3:33 PM

Glad to see some sanity regarding the monumental effort by PW. I'll say it again, imperfect world perfect storm = whole heck of a lot of trouble. In spite of the "imperfect world" and the decline in VOP personnel (which I strongly support!) - PW came thru in flying colors! Perfect? Of course not - but I haven't forgotten what everything looked like 2 days ago - they performed fantastically!!! BTW, again, I am anti-VMA, too. Great job by those in charge and behind the wheels, etc!!! Thanks!

OP Resident  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 1:52 PM

@Great Job. Most VOP employee pensions are drawn from the IMRF. Police & Fire personnel are the ones who's pension funding seems to be what concerns you. Many union members live and work in Oak Park. Sadly, there's a strong anti-labor movement in town directed by the VMA. Blaming the unions for our financial troubles gets plenty play at the table of our Village Board & in the viewpoints expressed by Dan Haley. Collective bargaining agreements help preserve the middle class & aid the working poor

Stop your Whining from OP  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 1:37 PM

Does anyone read what they type before posting??? "I shoveled then the plows came and I had to shovel some more", all of you cry baby Oak Parkers quiet yourselves down, if they don't plow you whine, if they plow too soon you whine, if they plow too late you whine. I say-- wave and scream THANK YOU to every OP truck you see over the next week. Those people worked their butts off everyone else just shut up

Great Job from Oak Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 1:18 PM

This was the quickest and most complete snow removal job I've seen in my 15 yrs in OP. Great job by the Public Works crew, the same crew we want to outsource to independent contractors with no loyalty to our village. I say get their pension plan under control and keep them on our payroll. This opinion from a guy who normally doesn't support organized labor!

JC  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 11:46 AM

Great idea by B.Lanning and I agree the Public Works crews did a fine job. But, Village Hall was woefully inept in providing accurate information to the community. Ray Johnson posted a message after midnight on Thusday telling residents to contact Public Works & report areas that were still unplowed. That message should have been scrolled on TV6 throughout the day on Wednesday. The Village website was not a source for updates. Village Hall dropped the ball by failing to communicate.

New to OP  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 11:32 AM

I grew up on Chicago's South Side in "patronage" wards and once married lived near Mayor Daley so I can't complain about snow removal. New to the Village I must say I am very impressed with the job done with snow removal.

Ridgelander from Oak Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 11:02 AM

I have lived in OP for 20 years. The snow removal response for the third largest snow in my lifetime has been the best I have ever seen. The PW folks followed the plan: main streets, side streets, then alleys. With that mostly done, they moved to busy city sidewalks, parking spaces, etc. I called VM Barwin's office yesterday, asking for action on busy pedestrian crossings, like the one at Ridgeland & Lake. By this morning, it was done. I am impressed.

B.Lanning from Oak Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 10:32 AM

You could extend the map to include areas other than streets and alleys such as parking lots and crosswalks, whatever needs clearing. Distribute the address of the snow map to the public through the newspapers and the village email listserv so the village government and the residents can view it online to get an overview of the situation and make it less likely a village manager and board issue misinformation.

B.Lanning from Oak Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 10:32 AM

In the next big snowstorm, I suggest the village make a snow map of Oak Park through My Maps in Google. List it as public map. Share it with public works employees and the village bureaucracy so they can collaborate on the map. When an alley or street is plowed, a driver or village employee uses a smart phone, an ipad, or a computer to log into the map, and mark it passable with a with a green icon.

Here's a thought  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 8:44 AM

@Nerob, plenty. Shoveled sidwalks, driveways, alleys and dug cars out as I have for nearly 50 years in this area. And not complained about "incompetence" of government. Such ego you have, the largest snow storm in sometime and the first thing they need to do is plow your alley? Get over yourself. They have like 5 people left in public works. Commendable that you shoveled, now take it our of your rear and relax.

Fire Barwin  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 11:35 PM

Another thought. Let's just fire Barwin to pay for the cost of cleanup. Seems to me we don't really need a village manager.

nerob  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 9:14 PM

@ Here's a thought Just wondering- how many feet of alley did you shovel exactly? Thanks to the incompetence of our Village government, my neighbor across the alley, his son and I just spent the last 3 hours clearing roughly 160' so that we and our neighbors could get out. Hope you enjoyed sitting on your a@# tonight.

@Here's a thought  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 8:55 PM

Well said. I completely agree.

Here's a Thought  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 8:52 PM

Maybe some of you could get up off your duff's, stop whining behind your computer and SHOVEL. Christ ok perhaps there were some bad statements but when you were kids you got off your a@#es and shoveled yourselves out. Now? You sit in the comfort of your home whining about how someone else hasn't cleared my sidewalk yet. Lazy.......

Deborah Wess  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 8:39 PM

I'd be interested to hear exactly how many residences (and in what neighborhoods)received mail delivery either yesterday or today. We haven't yet, and our side of the street is shoveled clear and so are my steps. I'd like to know when my mail delivery will resume!

anne from oak park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 8:04 PM

Our alley on the 1150 S. Block of Elmwood was plowed yesterday and the streets were done too. But as the plows kept going by today they undid all the work we did on our corner and the mouth of our driveway. We cannot get to the street now but at least the sidewalks are clean!!

Mike Risher  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 7:48 PM

@Oak Park, thanks for cleaning up your comment.

Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 7:46 PM

Barwin forgot that Oak Park extends north of Division. How do we get our alleys plowed? Then how do we get rid of Barwin?

Peter J DiVerde from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 7:35 PM

I hope that's a misquote. Several alleys are impassible or nearly impassible in the NE corner of Oak Park as of 7:30 PM. After digging with my neighbors for hours to get at least some of the cars out, it would be nice if they'd lift the parking ban so we don't have to gamble on getting towed or getting plowed back into our garages.

Brent Borgerson from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 6:52 PM

Please, let our alley alone. A bunch of we neighbors cleared the alley, and took care of those who couldn't shovel. Then (of course) the plows came through and undid a lot of our work. Though many more people did sidewalks than usual, there were many stretches of un-shoveled walks, especially along major ped-routes such as Harrison and Jackson. Many of those houses were owned by young couples or people with teens. Shovel out garbage cans and hydrants,please. Saw lots of teamwork in this storm!

OPer  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 6:08 PM

"the village hopes that it can recoup most of its costs for the dig out." From where? The bankrupt State? The bankrupt Fed? OP is a rich community. Surely it can cover its own snow plowing costs.

tax payer  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 6:00 PM

My alley has not been touched- so what does that mean "all alleys are plowed"? Are you kidding? When I was a youngster my father worked for a utility and when there was a storm he worked much overtime. Do they get paid so much in Oak Park, there is no need to be bothered with that? It would be nice if the "facts" about the plowing were accurate, but as it seems with politics, the truth is hard to find.

OP Resident  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 5:51 PM

Advice for the Village Manager. Stop making proclamations about the conditions of the streets and alleys until you know what you're talking about. Get out there and see for yourself. Speak with authority on the subject and people will trust that you have actual knowledge of the conditions. Have the Village spokesman tag along for the ride. You both need to get out there. Oak Park is a small community and the trip shouldn't take too long. Maybe Ray Johnson would willing to do the driving.

nerob  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 5:32 PM

@Bobbie- I'm not sure how Forest Parks ordinances are written, but I'd think they're similar to Oak Park's. It's the responsiblity of each property owner to clear a pedestrian path or hire someone to do it for them- not the village's responsibility.

nerob  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 5:27 PM

Either you're misquoting him or Tom Barwin is either lying or poorly informed. As of 5:30pm here are multiple alleys in the northwest corner of OP that have not been touched by a plow. Some alleys, or portions of alleys, have been cleared by residents using snowblowers and shovels, but not plows.

Bobbie Sanchez from Forest Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 5:26 PM

Newsflash!! Not everyone drives!! What about making it to where people can walk down the sidewalks? Just a simple, narrow plowed row down the sidewalks would help...and maybe not pile the snow 4' at street crossings/traffic lights?? Sorry, but the villages like Oak Park, Forest Park included, should not tout that they are pedestrian friendly, when obviously, they aren't.

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