Akron will hold forums this month so residents can tell the city what went wrong with clearing side streets during a recent snowstorm, and how it might be done better next time.
Marilyn Keith, Ward 8 councilwoman and Public Service Committee chair, will lead the six meetings spread across the city "to gather as much intel as we can to make the best decision” moving forward.
Keith is part of a 15-member Snow and Ice Control Task Force appointed by Council President Margo Sommerville to dissect the slow effort to plow the city’s residential streets, which remained buried under a foot of snow from an exceptional storm last month as neighboring communities managed to dig out days earlier.
The task force met Thursday for the first of four private sessions that will culminate by March 1 with a set of formal recommendations, from better utilizing city snowplows to the timely request of help from private contractors to better communication with residents. The first meeting set the agenda and offered those who haven't toured the Akron Municipal Service Center on Triplett Boulevard the chance to do so. The remaining deliberations will be confidential until the final report is released.
Keith said she had planned the six community engagement meetings prior to the creation of the task force. She’s invited her colleagues on the Public Service Committee as well as the other 14 on the task force to attend and hear from anyone from the public with a concern.
The meetings will be held:
• Tuesday, 6-7:30 p.m., Lawton Community Center, 1225 Lawton St.
• Wednesday, 10-11:30 a.m., Ellet Community Center, 2449 Wedgewood Drive
• Wednesday, 6-7:30 p.m., Kenmore Community Center, 880 Kenmore Blvd.
• Thursday, 10-11:30 a.m., Firestone Park Community Center, 1480 Girard St.
• Feb. 21, 10-11:30 a.m., Patterson Park Community Center, 800 Patterson Ave.
• Feb. 26, 10-11:30 a.m., Northwest Community Center, 1730 Shatto Ave.
Members of the task force include five residents (Lunzy Armstrong, Pedro Avalos, Andre Blaylock, Tony O’Leary and Haylee Starvaggi), five members of council (Jeff Fusco, Keith, Veronica Sims, Margo Sommerville and Rich Swirsky), and five city professionals (Deputy Manager of Public Works Robert Harris, Acting Manager of Public Works Jim Hall, Deputy Director of Public Service Chris Ludle, Director of Public Service John Moore and Parks Maintenance Manager John Nutter).
Keith stressed that while the job could have been handled better, the city was pounded with the worst snowstorm in the past decade. Early criticism from residents and city officials, including Mayor Dan Horrigan, has questioned a contract with the state that prioritizes highway plowing before side streets and why some plow trucks raced from route to route over snow-covered streets with their plow blades lifted in the air.
Anyone unable to attend the six public forums may email concerns and suggestions to Keith at email@example.com.
Reach Doug Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3792.