Lack of timely snow removal downtown aggravates merchants
It's a complaint I heard from Downtown Batavia merchants last winter, and a sore subject that came up at a BID meeting over the winter -- snow piled up along Main Street. Now merchants are grumbling again after the first big snow storm this year.
The big mounds make it exceptionally hard for customers to come downtown, park on Main and walk into a business. Generally, when the snow is piled up like it is, only the driver can get out of a car and then must walk a half a block or more in traffic to the nearest opening to gain access to the sidewalk -- and then walk back to the business he or she wants to enter.
Ken Mistler, who is opening a gym at Main and Jackson in a few weeks, is also concerned about the practice of city public works crews piling up snow right in the middle of the parking lot behind his building. The large pile can take up as many as 20 parking spaces, and with several popular businesses on Jackson, that doesn't leave much parking room left with convenient access to those businesses and the gym.
He said he isn't worried about his customers walking some distance to get into the gym -- they are, after all, into fitness -- but he is concerned that the additional parking his gym requires means that customers of the Jackson Street businesses will find it harder to park and face longer walks.
Those 20 or so spaces are much needed, Mistler said, so he suggested the snow be piled behind the empty Latina's market, not in the middle of the most used parking area off Jackson.
City Manager Jason Molino said the city is constantly reviewing snow plowing and removal procedures, but removal is not a priority during a storm and can only be accomplished as manpower and equipment availability dictates.
"Our first priority, when we have a snow storm like yesterday, is to make sure the thoroughfares are clean, the major arteries in the city are clear, and then the side streets and then we get into snow removal," Molino said during an interview on Friday.
At the BID meeting this summer, Board President John Roche said downtown merchants need to be vocal about letting City Hall know that they want to see snow removal become more of a priority this year.
We'll see what happens.