WENATCHEE — Removing an unprecedented two feet of snow across the city didn’t come cheap for Wenatchee.
The city has spent $200,000 so far on contractors and rental equipment, according to Public Works Operations Manager Aaron Kelly. The city will amend the 2022 budget at a later date to account for that amount.
“This is above and beyond what we normally have to spend,” Kelly said in an interview. During a council meeting Thursday night, he said, “Since the snow started on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, we’ve had crews on 24 hours a day, basically.”
The city hopes to give crews at least a one-day break this weekend before continuing their work on widening streets; clearing turn lanes, alleys, parking lots and cul-de-sacs; and removing berms.
“They’ve done a remarkable job of getting things open,” Mayor Frank Kuntz said. “I think we’ve seen the depth of snow, just not that quickly.”
The city’s snow storage facility on South Wenatchee Avenue is usually adequate to last the city through an entire winter, but crews filled it Saturday afternoon. The city has been forced to use state Department of Transportation property and a vacant lot off of Springwater Avenue for the excess snow.
On Thursday, the city council also unanimously passed an emergency ordinance regarding snow removal.
Under the ordinance, the city will give a 24-hour notice to individuals who are not complying with snow removal guidelines. If the city receives no response, it will hire a contractor to clear the sidewalk and then seek reimbursement from the property owner.
The city will initially focus enforcement efforts around schools. On Thursday, city staff delivered about 100 letters to properties and will work on hiring a contractor Friday for property owners who do not comply.
“We don’t want to go do this, and we have given a week’s grace, but we need to have the ability to take quick actions,” said Rob Jammerman, public works director.
Kuntz said the issue is a safety concern for children walking to school.
“If there are cars and just one kid slips and falls — you can’t have the expectation, out of public safety, that your grade-school children will be walking in those sorts of conditions,” Kuntz said.