Oak Park hopes to tackle alleys by Thursday

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Oak Park's main and side streets are pretty much clear, curb to curb, according to Village Manager Tom Barwin. So now, crews hope to tackle the village's 100 miles of alleys, and Barwin hopes that work can be done by noon Thursday.

The village has hired the help of Oak Park-based Mohr Concrete, and currently five front-end loaders are trolling through alleyways, making way for residents to exit their garages Thursday morning.

Village plows are too large to get into alleys, and pickup trucks weren't quite powerful enough to tackle the work, Barwin said in a phone interview Wednesday night.

Altogether, Tuesday and Wednesday's blizzard dropped about 20 inches of snow on Oak Park in less than 24 hours, ending at about 2 p.m. Wednesday, Barwin said. It took a crew of about 25 snowplows 12 hours to completely clean up the village's 250 miles of streets.

"There's certainly some mopping up that needs to be done," Barwin said, later adding, "I'm a little biased, but all in all I think our team put together an amazing response."

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S.D. Plisken  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 6:59 PM

I was driving east on Augusta, around 5:30 pm today. The street was clear of all snow, down to asphalt. Despite that fact, I saw a giant snow plow heading west, blade down and chipping away at snow pile at the curb. Very curious site to see. Why there, then? I drove down Lake street at lunch and was surprised to see that there had not been more snow removal and the money making pay for parking spots...

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 5:40 PM

First, Dutch, I also live south (Elmwood/Gunderson alley) of the Ike and my alley is fine. Second, the next time I vote for a VMA candidate will be my first. I'm therefore anything but a VMA shill. Is my alley just pure luck? Have you contacted Public Works? Third, our lots are 25' and so little space for snow. I can get OUT of my garage, but I'm very concerned that getting in will be nearly impossible (2 cars in garage and no space to maneuver in alley). Can I park on street overnight?

Dutch Elm  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 5:37 PM

Tom: How about "Plowing South of The Ike on a Snowy Evening"? But no, "for there are days to go before I drive."


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 5:30 PM

When our daughter returned from out of town during the blizzard, our alley had not yet been plowed, the streets were clear, so she simply drove to the parking garage in the Avenue district. Lots of room, no snow, no sweat.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 5:27 PM

Man, oh, man. People used to write poetry about this: e.g. "Snowbound." Now, they write vituperative, anonymous blog comments. I like the "old school"approach.

Dutch Elm  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 4:56 PM

This is my "Bilandic Moment" for the current board. I also live south of the Ike and the alley is still 2 and 3 feet high with snow. As the north side gets first class, first up service, the south side gets self congratulatory emails from the Public Works Dept saying that all of the alleys have been plowed. Is anyone at Public Works supervising or inspecting the alleys? Incompetent is too tame a description for these pension millionaires and talk a thon politicos. How do you spell VOTE?

chet21 from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 4:48 PM

I said/wrote it before and I repeat: imperfect world/perfect storm. Add in the budget cuts (which I support - you can't be fully staffed for EVERY contingency) and that "imperfect world" translates in to not being able to serve and please everyone - and I commend the work that has been done in Oak Park. I know that many, many Chicagoland communities are in much worse shape. Perfect job? Nope, but I'm not a "perfect job," either.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 4:40 PM

I encourage everyone posting here to sign-up for news from the VOP. The link is here: http://muniweb.com/OakParkVillageMailingList/MailingList.asp On the VOP website, detailed information is included within the 'Special Weather Advisory'. Of note, contractors have completed alley clean-up and may have missed some areas, as they are not as familiar with Oak Park. If you need to report any problems, call 358-5700 from 8am to 4pm, or email: publicworks@oak-park.us


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 4:32 PM

Please take this to fb.. Its the only way they will ever see how stupid this all is. http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/vopnews

B. Lanning from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 4:17 PM

Just received an email from the village stating all alleys are plowed and passable. The east side alley of 100 S. Harvey, beside the 25 million dollar public works garage is not plowed. Residents cleared half of it but the north end is unplowed, snowlocking several garages. One can see the drifts in the alley from S. Harvey. Countless village vehicles pass it.

what the heck  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 3:41 PM

Still no sign of any plow in my alley south of the Ike at 3:40 P.M. Yes, some have started to dig themselves out. I cannot do that. Interesting that other blocks right next to me have been plowed out. Maybe we need to buy them a GPS with all of the tax dollars we pay?

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 3:23 PM

I'd like to add that I think the VOP public works employees did a fantastic job clearing the snow, with the exception of one passive/aggressive plow operator who came down Thomas in the middle of the night and piled 2 feet of snow in front of all of our driveways. Thomas was clear--was there any reason to plow the extra 1.5 feet to the curb? Especially with all the unplowed alleys? A pickup load of snow in front of Barwin's driveway would drive the point home . . .


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 3:21 PM

I'm still stranded too.. So are at least 30 people on the surrounding blocks. This interview is a real "Mission Accomplished" moment..


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 3:06 PM

@Oakparkbob- So everyone else is a whiner because your street was served first? It's 3PM on Thursday, I'm mid-block with 4' drifts blocking our alley at each end- no sign of plows here. Is your career that much more important than mine or my wife's? Where are my tax dollars being spent?


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 2:16 PM

Lucky you that your alley was plowed. Ours has not been, but yesterday our neighbors gathered together plows and did it themselves so the 4 of us that share the short alley can get our cars out. The village seldom plows our alley. We've complained to no avail.


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 1:55 PM

GOOD NEWS: our alley has been plowed. BAD NEWS: the main streets on either side have been unnecessarily replowed, blocking off both ends of the alley. CONCLUSION: bad Village management as usual.

Snowed in still....  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 1:26 PM

If I'm reading all this correctly, 25 plows... 350 miles of combined roads and alleyways... Working 24/7 for 27 hours.. my alley still is not done.. Even if it was right now, does that mean the plows travel at .5mph?

Michael O'Mara from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 1:05 PM

I was a little dismayed to know our north side neighbors had been dug out early wednesday morning, but want to recant. Village worked hard on this one....all alleys have been reached as far as i can tell, and there was alot of fun in having groups of neighbors help one another. Thanks Public Works!

J.G. Morales  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 12:39 PM

I'm south of the Ike as well, and my alley was plowed early yesterday evening. Even if it hadn't been, considering my parents can't get out the front or back of their home (in another town), nor drive/walk down their street, I say Oak Park has done well! Emergency vehicles wouldn't be able to reach my parents if needed. I have to call in the A-Team to get them out. Count yourselves lucky!


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 12:36 PM

Plow in my garage, please! I just cant remove the 4-6' drift 100 feet long! 8 of us tried for a few hours yesterday..


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 12:34 PM

They havent touched the alleys around Austin and Madison yet... Its 12:30... Public works told me they are doing alleys and side streets still today... The said they have a long list of people whos streets and alleys weren't done yet. Mission accomplished!


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 12:31 PM

I side with Oakparkbob on this one. Which is it - the Village is the bad guy because it didn't clear the streets & alleys, or because when they did clear the streets & alleys, it blocked your driveway or garage door? I'm not a "less gov't" right winger, but these complaints seem to indicate an unrealistic expectation of exactly what the village can provide re: services for its citizens, and what responsibilty we citizens have. Leave all the roads for OP; I'll do the 10ft wide garage opening.

Oakparkbob from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 11:53 AM

Some people complain they haven't seen a plow yet. Others complain that the plow put snow where they just shoveled. What a bunch of whiners. My area (Home & Monroe) was plowed by the village Wednesday AM so traffic could pass. The alleys were plowed Wednesday night about 9PM. Of course some snow from the plow will have to be shoveled again. VOP did a good job with a 20 inch snowfall!

John V. from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 11:05 AM

We in Baja Oak Park (south of the Ike)are used to being the last served at times like these. So I want to note what great work the Village has done down here. Finding our alley plowed this morning was a religious experience. Many thanks.

Kati Gilson from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 10:57 AM

S. East Ave. loves out snow plow team! Thanks everyone & thank you Scott B.!!!!!!

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 10:41 AM

I too would like to mention that curb to curb plowing is an exaggeration. Not one curb is plowed on Ridgeland and Jackson and I didn't see any curbs plowed through on Madison and Ridgeland. Also, none of the sidewalks around the outside of Longfellow Park had been plowed yet. Also, the sidewalks at Longfellow School had yet to be plowed. And as far as our alley is concerned, the residents of the 600 blocks of Cuyler and Highland were out in force to clear the alley yesterday - thanks to all!

Ridgelander from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 10:36 AM

Considering the degree of difficulty, Public Works has done an amazing job. Most streets are easily driven and many alleys too. After the alleys are done, please remember to clear snow at important pedestrian crossings. Ridgeland and Lake would be impossible for anyone with limited mobility to cross. Folks are walking to the el today and the kids will be walking to school again soon. I have no problem with the primary focus on cars, but please remember Oak Park's pedestrians too.


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 10:30 AM

Should I believe the alleys will be cleared in the next hour and a half? No alleys around the Madison and Austin area have been touched, and its 10:30 Thursday! Still 4-6 feet in the north south alleys!

Eileen from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 10:28 AM

I have yet to see a village plow on the 1100 block of Kenilworth just south of Lincoln School. A Board of Ed plow came yesterday and plowed just enough (maybe a third of the street)to get to the teacher's lot to clear the snow there. Teachers and parents will be very upset when they arrive tomorrow.

The sore one from oak park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 10:13 AM

I had just finished cleaning the path to the CURB and the plow threw everything back onto the path. The plow left at least 2 feet of the white stuff beyond the curb. We had at least 51/2' feet drifts behind our garage and parking spaces, and the plow added two more feet. Had to hire a plow to remove the stuff and what the helpful plow had added. The streets were good. I still remember when the Village plowed the sidewalks. (Like Forest Park does now.) Hope that this does not occur agai

Steve from OP  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 10:07 AM

Yes, to some of the post below, curb to curb is a little exaggerated. On on most the side streets I saw, they had been plowed, but nowhere close to the curb. I have many reasons to not like Tom Barwin, but this is not one of them.


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 10:04 AM

I do feel better OP. Thanks for asking! Our street was plowed this morning. VOP could and should have done better job communicating with residents via TV6, Village website and the local media. They've got folks on the payroll to do that job.


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 8:54 AM

@JC Do you feel better now that Ray Johnson gave you the number to the public works dept?? Really. If all of these whiner posts are adults and can logon to a computer, then i'd expect them to figure how to find public works ph # on the Vill website. Not very impressed.


Posted: February 3rd, 2011 1:42 AM

Ray Johnson's late night post is most welcome. Sorry he missed us. I'll call Public Works in the AM. We're stuck only a few blocks from Village Hall. Easy for Mr. Barwin to have checked on his way home. Sorry he missed us. He should driven the the Village before tooting his horn. We've heard from friends who saw plows going back over previously plowed streets. Kids at the sled hill said the snow plows kept driving around Barrie Park. This was one super plan according to Barwin. I disagree.

Pat from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 12:19 AM

A note to anyone from the Village reading these posts: How about a ban on parking on alley aprons during this kind of snowfall? It's a nightmare to drive or park your car and not hit a neighbor's vehicle when there are slippery ruts in the alley.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 12:04 AM

JC - Please contact Public Works in the AM to report your block - 358.5700 or publicworks@oak-park.us I am curious to know your street/block #. After driving around for a good part of this evening, I found streets plowed and alley work in process. I drove to neighboring communities to compare the condition of streets and while Lake St. in River Forest seemed to have more actual pavement showing, other towns to our East and West had some streets that were not passable.


Posted: February 2nd, 2011 11:14 PM

It's 11pm. No plowing yet on our block. In fact, we didn't see a single Village vehicle all day. No curb to curb service in this neighborhood. At 5pm today, Village Manager Tom Barwin congratulated himself for an awesome response effort. I'm sure he's now resting on his laurels and awaiting the praise he'll receive from his closest allies. Before they all hail the snow conquering hero, will someone ask Barwin to explain why he didn't use his taxpayer financed car to inspect our streets?

VInce Bray from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 11:08 PM

Clarification: 700 and 800 blocks of South Grove.

Vince Bray from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 11:06 PM

I think the village has done a good job, but Mr Barwin has been misinformed. The 700 and 800 blocks of Grove, very narrow to start with are 3 feet from the curb. I see a lot of replaced mirrors, in the next couple of days here, if they are not plowed back to the curb & parking is going to be the better part of a major drag.

Snow Shovel Handler from SW OP  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 11:04 PM

Kelly, Steve from Mohr Cement cleared our alleys. Hats off!

900/1000 S. Elmwood  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 9:09 PM

I think the village is doing a great job with clean-up efforts. ONE COMPLAINT!!! When is the village going to start enforcing the 2" parking ban? Come over and take a look @ the cars that have been parked in the same spot for over 24 hours. I watched as they shoveled their car out only to leave the car in the same parking space. This happens with every snow fall and we are left with piles of snow and ice by our walkways and unable to park in front of our own homes. TICKET & TOW!!

Kelly from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 9:01 PM

Early this morning some good samaritan with a plow-equipped truck cleared the alley between the 1000 blocks of Wisconsin and Wenonah. A front-loader just made a pass around 8. Plows on our street at various points today. It's not curb-to-curb yet, but I think the Village has done a pretty good job.


Posted: February 2nd, 2011 8:47 PM

Curb to Curb, The area you speak of has many driveways. Maybe the plows are trying to be considerate of that. I have seen a couple of plows being considerate at intersection and crosswalks so they DONT plow over someones hard effort to clear the sidewalk!

Curb to Curb? from OP  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 8:37 PM

Curb to curb???? does the Wed Jrl send its reporters out or just get the party line from village hall. Come look my friends. Woodbine, Forest, Kenilworth, and Marion are 3 feet from the curb to 3 feet from the curb, and if you want to park or get out of your drive you have to shovel the street, with the plowed up snow. I pay $17,000 in taxes -- for this crap? April 1 tax day. April 5 election day. Candidates: you tell me you'll lower my taxes and I'll vote for you.

OP Mom  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 8:32 PM

Think the village is doing a superb job. Thank you!

Grateful from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 8:27 PM

Many thanks to my landlord and neighbors who shovelled our sidewalks! You did a great job and I could see the plows out continually these last couple of days. Twenty inches ain't no cheap change when it comes to snowflakes! Bless you all.

Brent Borgerson from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 8:25 PM

Most of the neighbors on 800 Home/Clinton banded together to make the alley passable. The village did a great job,I think!

Another Longfellow resident from Village of south side oak park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 8:21 PM

just walked to the Madison street Jewel. Ridgeland, madison & Adams clear, curb to curb. Side streets, one lane, certainly not curb to curb! I did see a plow working the alleys.

Scott Dawson from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 8:20 PM

Oh......and it stopped snowing in Oak Park by 10:30am Wednesday....11am at the absolute lastest.

Scott Dawson from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 8:17 PM

I agree with 50% of the posts here. Barwin is clueless or hid inside all day. I park by the old Walgreens at Clinton and Madison and as of 5:30pm no plow had hit the south 200 feet or so of Clinton from the fence to Madison. Plows seemed more interested in plowing what's already been done then clearing all the streets.

OP Resident  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 8:09 PM

Tom Barwin is clueless. He ought to get out in the community before he declares that "steets are pretty much clear, curb to curb". He's full of baloney! I don't know where his bunker is located but the Longfellow School neighborhood hasn't seen a plow all day. Kudos to the crews who have put in all the time and effort but a "big thumbs down" to our Village Manager! Good work by the Wednesday Journal to find him. Too bad for us, that Barwin didn't make certain that residents were kept up to date.

Sondra from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 7:57 PM

We too, had the same group effort. Our neighbors banded together to shovel the alley and garage aprons on the 800 block of home/Wenonah. Great job everyone!!!

Mike Cooper from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 7:41 PM

The 300 Block of South Clinton worked to clean most of the alley. I hope the plows do not just toss the snow towards the garages if the area is clean. Or should I say .. pretty please :-)


Posted: February 2nd, 2011 7:40 PM

The village did a great job cleaning things up. I spoke with some coworkers from the farther west suburbs, and they have not seen even one snowplow on their street yet. We are lucky! I am also very grateful to my nice neighbors who helped me dig out my car without me even asking for help. Thanks everyone!


Posted: February 2nd, 2011 7:32 PM

Yeah, I'd have to say that the "curb to curb" assessment is a little exaggerated.

Allen from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 7:18 PM

Tom Barwin has obviously not been to the first block of Iowa. It is not clear from curb to curb. Cars were getting stuck until residents started shoveling the middle of the street. I don't expect it to be clear until Mother Nature melts the snow.

J Roy Burton from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 7:17 PM

A fine job. Thanks.

Mary Pellegrini from Oak Park  

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 7:14 PM

I can only speak of the area I walked through today around noon. I was happy to be able to walk in a rut caused by a heavy piece of equipment on LeMoyne. East had been cleared once and was easy to navigate on foot. Oak Park Ave was cleared curb to curb. By 2PM my alley had been plowed. All in all, considering the challenges of high winds and 20 inches of snow; I think the village did a good job.

Angela Walker from Oak Park,   

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 7:14 PM

With respect, I must say I am proud of my neighbors. From the group efforts of shoveling snow in ront of house to the group effort of shoveling snow in the alleys. What a scene. Neighbors I dont generally see until summer, were out in force. Front, back, and alleys. Even some sides of houses. what a great group effort.

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