First on the agenda - special recognition for the Sleepy Eye Police Department.

Tuesday evening’s Sleepy Eye City Council meeting had an agenda slim on issues. It was mostly routine approvals for the new year and various reports. After moving quickly through those matters, the police report was next on the agenda and turned out to contain the only issue to elicit much discussion—snow parking tickets.

A snow emergency was declared following the Friday, Dec. 29 snowfall, to go into effect at midnight that night. The city’s snow emergency policy calls for all vehicles to be removed from the downtown area. For the rest of the town, the plows will simply go around parked vehicles. Those vehicles are then required to be moved to a plowed area by 24 hours after the snow emergency. This is to allow the plows to make another pass through town and completely clean the streets.

During the daytime hours of Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 the police department issued 114 tickets for vehicles parked in an area that was yet to be plowed. Some people were not happy about that, however Chief Andres said most paid the $25 ticket with little complaint.

Three residents attended the meeting to discuss the procedure. Concerns expressed included: there wasn’t that much snow, they didn’t plow again in 24 hours, cars in the neighborhood came and went for some time before I was ticketed, just what makes a snow emergency?

City Attorney Alissa Fischer explained the snow emergency policy several times. City Manager Mark Kober said, “We have 50 miles of curb line. We don’t want to do it [plow] several times, we want to do it twice. If you are windrowed in, move it or you’ll get a ticket.”

Public Works Director Bob Elston advised not to put so much emphasis on the term “emergency.” He said, “It is a term that means we are going to plow the streets. It does not mean there is an emergency, such as a medical emergency or police emergency. Most cities use the same term.”

After considerable discussion, with several points reiterated more than once, Councilor Dick Zinniel said that the policy should stay the same and everyone involved should use some common sense.

Police Chief Matt Andres invited anyone with a question about their ticket to come see him. “Our officers take a picture of each ticketed vehicle. We can take a look and discuss it,” he said. (See the Chief’s column on the topic, also in this issue.)

Other business:

Engineer Dave Palm told the council that plans and specs for the 2018 Highway 14 project were submitted to the MnDOT District office, signed and forwarded to the central office. MnDOT expects a bid date of March 23, start date of May 21, complete by Aug. 17.

The council called for a Feb. 13 public hearing on city hall renovation (new police department office.) Kober said the USDA rural communities program could provide a $50,000 grant and a $450,000 loan at 3.125 percent interest. Applications for any of these funds require a public hearing.