The Town of Leesburg is getting ready for the next big snowstorm, whenever it may hit.
In an information memorandum shared with the Town Council this week, Deputy Town Manager Keith Markel and Renee LaFollette, director of the Public Works & Capital Projects Department, laid out the revised strategy for FY17 snow season.
Following January’s Winter Storm Jonas, when the town’s early attention to primary roads, and not neighborhood roads, drew the ire of many residents stuck inside for days, the town staff has been scrutinizing its strategy, along with its budget. The Town Council recently earmarked an additional $85,000 in FY17 to cover additional contracted snow removal equipment and mobilization incentives.
The memo notes that the town’s in house staff and equipment can adequately address snowstorms up to 18 inches of total accumulation, but in case there is a larger snowstorm, some strategy changes are proposed. Those include the turning over of snow-clearing duties at the town’s fire and rescue departments— the Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company stations on Plaza and Loudoun streets, and the Loudoun County Volunteer Rescue Squad on Catoctin Circle—to Loudoun County. The town staff will also work closely with the county to request out-of-region support from on-call contractors to assist with major snow removal, like January’s historic storm.
The town staff will also assist in clearing the sidewalks along designated high priority areas, which tend to attract a lot of pedestrian traffic, when the snow accumulation is greater than 18 inches. According to the memo, these include the sidewalks along Edwards Ferry Road between Plaza Street and Heritage Way, Plaza Street between East Market Street and Edwards Ferry Road, and East Market Street between the split and Fort Evans Road. When a snowstorm accumulation is less than 18 inches, property owners will be responsible for clearing the sidewalks in the designated high priority areas. Citations will be issued for noncompliance, and if the sidewalks are still not cleared, the contractors hired by the town will clear the sidewalks and bills issued to the property owners. The downtown sidewalks will be cleared by the town for lesser amounts of snow because of the limited area to push and store snow.
In addition to inking more agreements with contractors to be on the ready for assistance with snow-clearing operations, town staff members are being cross-trained to operate snow removing equipment. A majority of the manual labor work, like salting and shoveling, will be outsourced to private contractors. Other changes include equipping more town-owned equipment with snow plows; technology and communications enhancements to the town shop; and more robust educational outreach to residents and businesses.