Cleveland City Hall responds to complaints over handling of snowstorm
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - After two days and multiple requests for comment, Cleveland mayor Justin Bibb’s office has responded to criticism over the new administration’s handling of their first big snowfall.
“This is a great opportunity to look at what the procedure is, evaluate it, and make adjustments,” Chief Operating Officer Bonnie Teeuwen told 19 News on Tuesday, her first day on the job.
As of early Tuesday evening, she said about 72% of the city’s 10,000 streets had been plowed and all were expected to be plowed at least once by Wednesday morning.
Sam Stevens, who lives in Ohio City, said he has come to accept that it is always going to take a significant amount of time for the city to get the streets plowed, especially when a foot or more is dumped in one storm.
“It’s the most snow we’ve had in a while, the streets around here, it is an old neighborhood, and it is tough to pass even in good weather sometimes,” Stevens said with a laugh. “So I also see a lot of neighbors helping each other out which is good to see but yes, they clear the main streets and go from there.”
Aaliyah Nelson lives in the Broadway neighborhood, at the intersection of Mead and Dakota, where it was obvious that a plow had never passed.
The roads were rutted with ice and snow making it just about impossible to navigate without getting stuck.
Nelson said, it has always been a problem getting plows into the neighborhood.
“It’s pretty frustrating, it’s been very difficult, but we’ve all been trying to work together so if we see somebody stuck, we all come out to help each other out,” she said.
The criticism has come from inside City Hall too.
“I do not think this was an adequate response from the city,” City Councilwoman Rebecca Maurer told 19 News by email. “With the new administration and new members of council we need to take it as a learning opportunity to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better. Even clearer communication about the plowing priorities and schedule would make a huge difference.”
Teeuwen, who has extensive experience in engineering, is the former Director of Public Works for Cuyahoga County. She also served as a high-ranking official with the Ohio Department of Transportation.
She said she will look into the city’s handling of the snowstorm.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to see how they did and if there are improvements that can be made along the way,” she said.
Downtown streets were completely passable but there is plenty of work to be done to clear lanes where snow piled up, turning two-lane roads into one-lane roads and causing problems for delivery drivers, in some cases.
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