Dry sidewalks and streets made it easy for Downtown shoppers to head out on Dec. 14.

Dry sidewalks and streets made it easy for Downtown shoppers to head out on Dec. 14.

By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE—(December 17, 2013)  Heavy snowfalls earlier this month may have caused headaches for commuters across the region, but here in Montrose, record precipitation on Dec. 4-5 also signaled opportunity. For City of Montrose Public Works Director John Harris, the storm—which dropped more than ten inches of early season snow on the City–offered a chance to try out the department’s newly-implemented snow removal strategy.

“For the first time, we drafted some official snow removal procedures,” Harris said. “We now have tiered routes, with major arterials taking top priority, and then emergency services such as the hospital and fire stations.”

The new procedures and definitions have been placed on the City’s web site as well, Harris said.

“I think things went really well this time,” Harris said. “We held a debriefing after the storm to review how things went, and to determine where we can improve.”

Public Works will continue to review snow efforts throughout the season with the goal of continued progress, he added.

“We are doing more long-range planning these days,” Harris said. “We need a paving plan as well—in fact, today I am meeting a representative from a pavement assessment software system, which would enable our long-term planning efforts.”

Expect the City’s new parking committee to convene sometime after the holidays, he noted, and reminded in-town residents that the City offers a program for homeowners whose parcels of the “urban forest” need trimming.

“We have a very popular program that our streets division has had for many years,” Harris said. “Our tree-trimming assistance fund will pay 50 percent of the cost for removing or cutting back dangerous branches—so if you have a large tree with a limb that hangs over the spot where you park your car, for example, we will pay half of the cost for a licensed tree trimmer.”

The program, which spends all of the $15,000 allotted each year, is available throughout Montrose, but is most heavily used in the City’s  residential core, he said.

Projects that Harris believes will have a positive impact on Montrose include the proposed expansion of the Colorado Mesa University Montrose to include a pedestrian plaza on South Cascade between south Second and Third streets.

“Having a college right in town is great for the community,” Harris said, “and the expansion is very positive for our future. They have such a beautiful campus in Grand Junction that it excites me to think about what we could see here in Montrose—and the beauty of it is that someone else will be paying for it.”

In the meantime, city residents with public works concerns should feel free to call the department directly at 970-240-1480, he said.

“Any time the public has an issue or concern we want to hear about it,” Harris said. “If you think you are being neglected, just call me directly and we will get something resolved. We appreciate knowing what is going on, and there is always a solution.”