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‘We need to improve a lot:’ DPW head grilled about ‘botched’ snow cleanup

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee streets are stacked with snow weeks after the last major snowfall. The Common Council is grilling the commissioner of Public Works for what they are calling a "botched" cleanup. Many aldermen want to know why crews have just stopped cleaning up -- when there is so much work left to be done.

"We need to improve a lot!" said Milwaukee Alderman Mark Borkowski.

Jeffrey Polenske fielded questions on Wednesday, March 6 from the Public Works Committee after complaints about the slow response to clearing still-snowy areas including dead end streets and on-street parking spots.

Front end loaders that are contracted out to private companies help target specific areas.

"It's a staffing issue, and then it would be a contracted issue -- which is a very expensive operation," Polenske said.

Adding to the debate is the decision to extend Milwaukee's already confusing winter parking regulations under March 15. It is an emergency order some aldermen say it is just a plot to melt the city's way out of this problem.

Solutions floated include the creation of a snow and ice control reserve -- staffed by retired city workers who would help with cleanup after storms.

"You can't compare apples to apples, snowfalls to snowfalls, year to year. They all kind of bring their own circumstances. We are responding to them in the best way we can," Polenske said.

The regulations have been extended until March 15, but only for streets that are posted with "No Parking December 1 - March 1" signs. The last time the city put an extension like this was 1985.

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