Evanston aldermen had widely differing reactions Monday night about the city’s performance clearing snow after last week’s blizzard.

A snow plow on Chicago Avenue Monday as more snow fell.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said at the City Council Rules Committee meeting that the work in her ward was very inconsistent.

On some streets, “it’s unbelievable how beautiful they are,” she said, “but then there are others where it appears as though either people are being forgotten about or punished.”

She said she’d received angry calls from residents calling her “every name in the book.”

But Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she believes city staff had made “a fantastic effort” to clear the snow and that she’d received many calls praising the work done.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, called the clean-up effort “a mixed bag, a work in progress.”

He said he heard about some trouble spots and was able to work with city staff to get them fixed.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she believed the city’s performance this time was much better than during the last big blizzard in 1999.

“Compared to that, this was a breeze,” Wynne said. “That one was really paralyzing. This storm was potentially even more disabling because of the drifts along Sheridan Road, but it was handled better.”

Wynne said the decision to plow alleys “was absolutely the best decision. People recognized that extra effort” to keep people from having their cars trapped in their garages.

A front-end loader moves snow in the vacant lot at Chicago Avenue and Main Street Monday.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, praised the decision to open the city’s downtown garages for free parking, which helped reduce the number of cars left on the street.

And Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said he appreciated having school parking lots available for residents to move their cars to after the storm so side streets could be cleared.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said there’s still no accounting of how much the snow removal effort has cost, but that he planned to have a report ready for the council’s March 14 meeting.

He said the city needs to refine its snow emergency parking rules to deal with unusually large storms.

And he said this storm demonstrated that there’s a limit to how long people can continue to work 12-hour days.

“By day three or four everyone’s getting very tired. So we have to have fresh people coming in, that’s clear from this event,” Bobkiewicz added.

The city’s snow melting machine ready for action.

He said the effort to clear Sheridan Road had slowed work elsewhere in town.

“The 24 hours we spent on Sheridan Road, the shear amount of resources. We had to have the police come out because people were climbing on drifts as we were trying to plow them away. If we could have put those reosurces back in the community, it would have made a difference,” he said.

He said the city had benefited from a decision to rent hotel rooms for 30 workers so they could stay in town the night of the storm.

“Some other people said they’d be OK, went home, and then we didn’t see them for another two days” because they couldn’t get back, Bobkiewicz said.

Bobkiewicz said residents with comments or suggestions about the blizzard cleanup effort can send email to snow@cityofevanston.org.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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7 Comments

  1. Nice daytime photos of snow melter..

    ..But it's not the same as taking photos at 3am when it's been keeping local residents, who happen to live right next to the vacant lot, awake all night, for 6 consecutive nights.

    1. Turn off the back up alarm

      I live on Chicago, and when the little snow clearers backed up the alarm went off…every six seconds for 4-5 hours on Saturday night, and then for another hour or two on Sunday night. I might be able to fall asleep with just the shoveling and banging and scraping, but the alarm? Not a chance in hell. Next time, it would be great if the night time snow clearers could disable the alarms.

  2. Thanks to the city

    My little PT Cruiser convertible thanks the city for enabling me to store her in the city garage for the duration of the storm and cleanup, which probably saved her fabric top from caving in from the weight of all that snow.

  3. Good work, city
    The city has done as well as it could considering the magnitude of the storm. frankly, I’m a little tired of residents bashing the city for not having everything fresh and clean. Moreover, I think the residents themeselves are largely to blame. There are many street parking places where it is evident nobody has even attempted to move their cars. How can you plow a street when you dont move your ride? Even on Wednesay as I spent most of the day helping out my neighbors, I was baffled so many people do not even own shovels!! The only thing I fault the city for is not towing cars starting right away. The City garages were all open for days as an incentive to get cars out of the way, so they should have started to tow on Wednesday.

    But in reality, I think Evanstonians need to take a little initiative of their own and be responsible residents. But if they did that, what would they complain about then???

    1. Responsibility – why ?

      Why should residents be responsible when it's so much easier to blame someone else? Why should parents be responsible for their kids when they can blame the schools? Why should students be responsible for their own work when they can blame someone else? Why should politicians be responsible when they can point fingers at their predecessors or the "other party"? Why should Donald Rumsfeld be held responsible for getting the U.S. involved in the Iraq War when he can blame others(see his new memoir) Responsibility – that's America…or it once was

  4. Free Snowplowing by Dist. 65?

    Just yesterday I watched a Dist. 65 maintenance truck plow the driveway of a private residence in the 2000 block of Greenwood as the resident stood by and beamed with pleasure. Is this an acceptable practice now? If so, I would like them to come to my home and remove the snow that continually piles up at the end of my driveway. Unfortunately, I suspect this private service is not for everyone. What gives Hardy Murphy? Is this a proper use of Dist. 65 manpower, money, and resources? I sent Superintendent Murphy an e-mail. I am anxious to hear the explanation.

    1. Serious Matter of theft in District 65

      If the comment here is true. The employee involved in this matter should be fired by District 65 for stealing. This is not a question of proper use of district 65 resources it is plain and simple theft. A employee on district time using district equipment to plow a private drive is theft. There should be no warning but simple termination. Hardy Murphy and the district 65 board should understand this if they don't they are no better than the employee who stole our tax dollars! ( which may be the case )

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