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Op-ed: City needs to clean up, check its priorities


This news story was published on December 22, 2011.
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(Op-ed given to NorthIowaToday.com by a person from Manly, wishing to remain anonymous)

I live just outside Mason City but come to town often with my wife.  I would like to say that a few days after the last snowfall, my wife and I were shopping at Southbridge Mall and exited at the north exit.  We proceeded to walk out onto the plaza and it was completely snow-covered except for a small path which had been shoveled.  We made our way up the path and I lost my footing and fell, right in front of the new Frank Wright Hotel.

Why wasn’t this new, expensive area totally free of snow?  How many millions of dollars were spent there, yet the snow remained, well after an acceptable time for it to be removed?

Watching the actions of Mason City’s leadership, people like myself from out of town always ask “what is going on there?”

Mason City needs to look at the basics of what is wrong in its city.  The snow removal is just one example.  The bike trails, that are buckling, in many places unsafe, and the trash that is littered all along them (especially on Monroe near the Wareco gas station.)

Do these little things and maybe us out-of-towners will want to spend more time in your city.  Thank you.

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12 Responses to Op-ed: City needs to clean up, check its priorities

  1. Avatar

    biker Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I think some are missing the point the man is making. First your tax dollars of many millions were spent on street-scape to beautify the downtown and the open plaza you would think 3, 4 or 5 days after it snows someone would take responsibility to have this snow cleaned up instead of looking unkept and unsafe. No, I don’t believe the business owners had to pay for the work on the plaza out of pocket so you would think the city would make sure these owners clean it up or establish who’s responsible and send a letter or do it and bill them pretty simple does your millions of dollars spent have to look like crap and be unsafe all winter if it snows

  2. John Bunnell

    John Bunnell Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I’m really confused, somebody with street plowing experience help me out. If the street plows didn’t start plowing at the center of the streets, pushing the snow to the curbs, where would they start??? Also, is it the cities fault that the snow melts and turns to slush??? I will bet that plowing city streets is really not that much fun, considering at the complainers along the route. I’ve lived in Mason City 63 years, and yes, every year my driveway gets plowed in. But I really don’t complaine because I realize there is no where else to push the snow except to the curb… I guess I could move to the country, oh wait, then the county would plow in my driveway. I hate winter in north Iowa…:)

  3. Avatar

    Echo Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

    It is the property owners responsibility to clean the sidewalks infront of their homes and bus. The blame for this one is not on the city but on the bus. owners who are too lazy to shovel their own walks. I have to clean snow in front of my property a couple of times because of snow plows but it is well worth my efforts to have clean streets.

  4. Avatar

    Larry Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2011 at 9:11 am

    When you take the time or pay the money to have the snow cleaned off your sidewalks and driveways you think the job is done. However, one to three days after you have done what was needed the city comes back around with the plows and plows your driveway and sidewalk approaches back in with an icy slush that freezes and is almost impossible to remove. If they did their job correctly and plowed the streets the first time instead going down the center of the street the sidewalks would be cleared. It would also make it much easier on the side parking problems. What good does it do to move your vehicle if they don’t plow the open side of the street. This is not a one time deal, it happens every time.

  5. Avatar

    Observer Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2011 at 6:27 am

    The writer makes a very valid point. Last winter was just absolutely horrible. One major downtown business, one that by the way, clears snow for profit, could not clear their own walks and curbs. There is no excuse for knee high snow where a pedestrian has to walk.

    Residential areas are no better. Today we have snow blowers, ergonomic shovels, and modern ice melters.

    When I was a small child, I remember Dad, and all neighbors cleaning up after a snowstorm. And for the most part, all they had were brooms and garden spades. One neighbor, made his own “shovel” from plywood and a pole. I will never forget the sound of it scraping the pavement. There was never any need for salt, it was always down to the bare pavement.

    It’s kind of hard in Mason City however to clear snow like that, since so many people let weeds accumulate on their sidewalks over the summer in every crack and crevice. Some, become major tripping hazards, especially at night. Yes, businesses are not guilt free in this.

    The question remains, why do so many people allow this? How hard is it to bend over and pull a weed? How hard is it to broom off a bit of snow off a porch so our Postal folks do their jobs safely? I bet if you were in their shoes (boots), you would feel ill used.

    Much as I hope this is not the case, one feels as if people don’t care about others. They don’t care if you trip on their sidewalk because of ice, snow, and weeds. You could care less. What else could it be?

    It’s not the government’s job to make sure you do the right thing (although the nauseating trend has been in that direction). Nor is it their collective job to make sure you give a darn about where you live.

  6. Avatar

    GlobeGazetteIsBankrupt Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2011 at 5:49 am

    This type of maintenance (trash and snow removal) is beyond the basic essential services a city provides. The majority of the trash are plastic shopping bags from the large retailers. The city should outlaw the use of these bags or assess the large retailers with a maintenance fee to pay for crews to do this type of trash removal. As far as the snow and ice, the downtown property owners should ban together to do uniformed snow removal instead of contracting with independent snow cowboys in doing a hodge podge in quality of jobs. Bike trials? Mason City has a recreational trial program? Not really, they try but fail. There really is no real comprehensive plan to connect the trails or maintenance plan. Another example of a hodge podge effort in Mason City. Once again, this is beyond the basic services a city provides. I doubt the City of Manly does this? Now if citizens want these extra services are they willing to pay for them? Doubt it!

  7. John Bunnell

    John Bunnell Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    The city owns the sidewalk in front of my house, but, I am buying the house. So I am required to remove the snow within a certain time after a snow fall. I don’t think the city owns the FLW hotel, so, aren’t the owners responsible for removing the snow??? All businesses should be required to remove their own snow, not the city. On another note, this is north Iowa, and it’s winter. When it snows, it’s usually slippery, wether the sidewalks/streets have been plowed or not. Walk carefully…

  8. Avatar

    Patriot Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I beleive the point this person is trying to make is that in a pedestrian traffic area someone should have taken the time to remove all the snow and apply ice melt which would make it safer for foot traffic. I don’t beleive that is out of line one bit. Used to be a maintenance man at an office building down town and keeping the sidewalks clean was a top priority. Don’t do it and someone gets injured you will be facing some bills for the neglect.

    But our city leaders are more interested in a trash plant then keeping walkways clean. I’m sure budget cuts do to the depressed local economy will mean less services all the time.

  9. Avatar

    Pam O. Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Have any of you ever heard of shoveling a walk and than placing salt and sand over it? I think city code requires it.

  10. Avatar

    Peter Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    I’m going to have to side with Fred on this one. Actually leaving packed snow on a sidewalk can give a person more grip than if it is shoveled off. Especially if there is a thin veneer of ice underneath. Sometimes leaving thin layer under a pure ice slick is dangerous because it misleads a person into stepping freely, but more than naught…snow helps gain traction.

  11. Avatar

    TheRealFred Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    You slipped and fell on the “small path that had been shoveled?” So if the entire walk was shoveled, how would that have changed anything?

  12. Avatar

    biker Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Not a joke, the city council should have to ride the Mason City bike trails and check to see how the workers keep it up and while your on the trails of River City don’t forget to look at your river littered with junk and full grown trees growing out of these very low waters. It is a good time with no water to clean the river! The council should look around, its getting dirtier and dirtier – seriously look around and clean up your city! i mean river city