Geneva! Please Bring Back Steve LeMaire!

Alright class – settle down! Now; can anyone tell me what happens when you combine a light winter rain with falling December temperatures? That’s right! Black Ice ain’t just an AC/DC album title.

But as straightforward as that simple concept is, some folks seem to have a real problem wrapping their minds around it. To wit, you can only imagine my stunned surprise as I was making the best of some west side of Geneva morning rounds with nary a municipal salt truck in sight.

After all, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. chemist to understand that a pre-salting prophylactic measure might have been the best course of action. Not only does it prevent the ice crystals from forming, but when applied at the appropriate temperature, the medium actually works. Wait until the mercury dips below 20 and you may as well dump that salt straight into the river.

Apparently KDOT grasped my hypothesis because, during that same 12/29 driving foray, I saw three of their trucks on Randall and Keslinger Roads which weren’t nearly as bad as Geneva’s secondary streets to begin with.

Fisher Drive was a solid sheet of ice. Williamsburg sucked, Fargo was frozen, and Bent Tree Drive was more of a prophecy than a street name. As if Geneva drivers weren’t bad enough already, imagine what they’re like when they can’t even see the hazard.

If this was the only case of Geneva screwing up the 2013 plowing/deicing process, then I’d probably keep my big mouth shut because I’d prefer not to have my driveway permanently plowed in for the remainder of the winter. Those Public Works folks don’t take constructive criticism nearly as well as you’d like to think.

But it isn’t the only example.

As I previously pointed out on Patch (and the commentors generally agreed), they tend to plow subdivisions when the snow is already packed into the pavement and then they insist on salting the resulting glacier during the almost inevitable post snowstorm deep freeze.

And the sad thing is it wasn’t always like this in the City that doesn’t always work.

So here’s my solution – let’s bring former Streets Superintendent Steve LeMaire back. While he may have stolen $24,000 from the City via credit card purchases over the course of eight long years, at least he got the job done.

In fact, I’d personally be willing to cough up that extra $200 a month just for the privilege of driving through Geneva without taking my life into my hands every bleepin' time it bleepin’ snows. Perhaps some of my more adoring readers would be willing to chip in a few bucks themselves (Colin?).

Lest you accuse me of abusing this public forum and being the perpetual curmudgeon, I’ve previously approached the Mayor privately on this issue only to be completely deafened by the ensuing silence.

I’m sure he’s far too busy perfecting his latest City Council standup schtick where he will relentlessly browbeat a hapless boy scout or utterly embarrass our latest GPD hire. Note to the Mayor; if you put as much effort into running the city as you do into your unfortunate "comedy" routines, we'd probably have clear winter streets.

In the meantime, I might just buy an army surplus tank.

And if you’re ever in Fisher Farms, stop by and say hello. You’ll know my house by the eight feet of snow at the end of the driveway.



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

karen fitzsimmons December 30, 2013 at 02:04 AM
I don't know about bringing back someone who stole money but I live in Sterling Manor and the roads are horrible and the cul-de-sacs are absolutely dangerous! They never get to us and when they do the just plow snow into the end of our driveway without any regard to the fact that they are blocking us in. I have to watch for the plows and tell them how the plow the cul-de-sac so we are not completely blocked in. It has been so bd with the snow and ice that we have had to call the city to come back out and get us out. I thought this is what these people do for a living but they don't pay attention to what they are doing at all. I watched a salt truck go down our street with only on side on to throw salt and then on the way out, turn it off. I swear I am going to video tape it and put it on youtube and FB. . .
Fozzie Dabear December 30, 2013 at 06:57 AM
Pretty poor roads in Ego Brook too. As a bear, I am of course asleep through most of the winter, but I do raise an eyelid and look out the window every now and then.
Jeff Ward December 30, 2013 at 08:07 AM
Karen, The part about bringing back Steve was tongue in cheek. It's kinda like the old joke about the professional baseball player who's wife's credit cards were stolen. He didn't report it because the thief spent less than she did! And sadly, it sounds like you're not the only cul-de-sac dweller who has to deal with mountains of plowed snow.
Matilda B December 30, 2013 at 08:30 AM
Isn't the situation related to less money budgeted to snowplowing? Just asking. We have a tax cap
Jeff Ward December 30, 2013 at 08:36 AM
Matilda, No, because they actually are doing the work. It's their timing and technique that's more than a little bit suspect. For example, after the last snow, I saw a plow spreading salt on packed snow in 10 degree weather in our neighborhood - with the plow up! It should've been the opposite!
Coffee Maker December 30, 2013 at 09:09 AM
Jeff, you can always move.
John Perdikus December 30, 2013 at 09:19 AM
Totally agreed. True about the mayor too. As I said a few years ago in this space, I’d rather have a boring skinflint for mayor rather than a spendthrift comedian.
Mark Allen December 30, 2013 at 09:59 AM
Social media allows a lot of folks to criticize without comment from the professionals. Geneva Street Dept. has a plan, often requiring time and a half, late nights away from family, during the holidays. Salt is toxic, used sparingly, starting on arterioles then residential streets. Geneva may have 3-400 miles of pavement. Occasionally, freezing rain/roads require patience, allowing the sun to clear it.
Arthur Dietrich December 30, 2013 at 09:59 AM
For the first time in three years, my street in Randall Square was salted before the freezing rain started. For many years we'd have clear streets all winter. For the past three years it seems only Lewis and Miller east from Lewis to the shopping centers gets plowed and salted. I thought it was because we paid less taxes than Mill Creek and Eagle Brook.
Jan December 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM
Jeff, you are of course focusing on the wrong person. It has nothing nothing nothing to do with the head of the department and everything to do with the guy who has been assigned your area to plow....or not. Get mad at the right guy. Ineptitude of a plow operator is just that.
Colin C. December 30, 2013 at 10:31 AM
$200 bucks a month? Colin who? Sorry Jeff or whatever your real name is. I did not see this blog.
Jeff Ward December 30, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Dear Readers, Please note that I'm simply pointing out that, under a previous administration, the plowing/deicing process worked. In fact, I used to mentally decry them plowing my cul-de-sac at 4:30 a.m. And now it clearly isn't working.
Jeff Ward December 30, 2013 at 02:26 PM
And Colin, I didn't say you had to come up with the whole $200. A sawbuck a month would be fine.
Coffee Maker December 30, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Pray for a warm Gulf of Mexico breeze from the south.
Jeff Ward December 30, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Dear Readers, Apparently, the folks at city hall took note of this column because around noon, all the aldermen received a curt email essentially blaming them for adopting the new snow removal policy. Please let me reiterate I don't have a problem with the policy - no one needs to plow my cul-de-sac - it's the implementation of that policy that sucks. Geneva did salt the streets yesterday, but they did it four hours too late. Perhaps it's time to privatize the snow removal process!
Matilda B December 31, 2013 at 11:43 AM
so what was the policy change and why was it supposed to be a good idea?
philip j kelly December 31, 2013 at 02:19 PM
I have to admit that the streets in Fisher Farm were very dangerous and hopefully the situation will be corrected. In the meantime, it would be nice (safe) if drivers would slow down. I am in no hurry to find out if Heaven or Hell exist.
Jeff Ward December 31, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Matilda, This is the current plowing policy: http://www.geneva.il.us/index.aspx?nid=305, though it wasn't easy to find. Implemented correctly, it's a reasonable cost saving measure. But the truth is, they're not even following it. In addition to frequently salting our under two inch sometimes glacial side streets in 10 degree weather, despite just a half inch of snow out last night, the plows came through Fisher Farms today. Perhaps it's in anticipation of what's coming, but it still doesn't make much sense to me.
Matilda B December 31, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Thanks Jeff. We used to be really good at snow removal. Especially years ago when I first moved here. I couldn't believe how good they were. I know with over time and budget cuts, cost savings, it had to change. My daughter from out of town just asked me if Geneva was always this bad about plowing. Not as good as they were when she was a kid.
karen fitzsimmons January 04, 2014 at 03:20 AM
OK I have read the policy but our road is still dangerous. There is no reason all the roads are clear excpet our culdesac. It is horrible2! Come drive on it and snow fall is better than usual for clean uuup
Mark K January 04, 2014 at 10:06 AM
I am a little late to this blog on snow removal. I have lived here 18 years nd this has been the worst year by far. Couldnt get out of the drive way because our side road hadn't been plowed! Our city government at its finest. Snow removeal effectiveness is on par with leaf pick up in the fall.


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