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Cleveland neighbors frustrated with city's snow response, demand improvements

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Posted at 11:09 PM, Feb 05, 2022

CLEVELAND — Parts of Cleveland were still snowed in Saturday afternoon following the latest round of winter weather. Some neighborhoods waiting for their first pass from plows placed the blame squarely on the city’s response.

“I know it takes time and all that, but now it’s Saturday afternoon and still no plow,” said James Jarrell.

Neighbors used their own shovels and snow blowers to make their small residential street in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood passable.

Jarrell said it was a similar experience after a snowstorm on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. He resorted to hailing an Uber two days after the storm because his car couldn’t make it down the unplowed street.

“This lady here trying to drive her minivan,” said Jarrell, gesturing to his neighbor’s vehicle. “She was getting stuck every 10 feet.”

The blast of winter weather this week was the latest test for Mayor Justin Bibb’s snow response. Following the MLK Day storm, the administration acknowledged the city could have handled snow removal better. The following week, Bibb unveiled a new real-time plow tracking map. He also pledged to add more plows to the city’s fleet, but cautioned it would take time to do so.

“I haven’t seen it yet,” Jarrell said. “I try not to get my hopes up when a politician makes a promise because actions speak louder than words.”

In the city’s 17th Ward, Councilman Charles Slife blasted the latest snow response on social media. In a Facebook post, he said he had been fielding calls Saturday morning from constituents upset by a lack of action.

He wrote, “I don't have solid answers yet on what's gone wrong. But Council members are furious and pushing back on reported data that 94% of all Cleveland side streets have had a first pass from a plow.”

In parts of West Park, neighbors said the first plow didn’t come through until Saturday evening.

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Coletta Fanta's car stuck in a snow bank at the end or her neighbor's driveway in West Park.

“We’ve been stuck here in the snow. And it finally got plowed today, thank goodness. But now the issue is it’s so high up that when we try to get out of our driveways this is the issue we’re running into,” said Coletta Fanta, whose car was stuck in the heavy snow at the end of a neighbor’s driveway.

The neighbors said they were grateful to finally have plowed roads, but were dismayed by what they worry is an inefficient process.

“I think they can figure out some kind of plan,” said Fanta. “It’s probably just a lot of trial and error.”

Jarrell added, “I’m frustrated, especially because it’s been going on three days now. I mean, come on, there’s only so much patience a community can have.”

On social media, Slife said his fellow Council members were “furious” and he is calling on the group to examine plow routes and driver shifts and improve the system.

In Bibb’s previous press conference, he promised the city would be in constant communication with groups, businesses and organizations to best prioritize plowing in future weather events. He said the proposed changes will be rolled out in phases.

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