Letter from VRA
It’s March, which is traditionally the beginning of Youth Art Month in Zionsville. Even if you don’t personally know youth whose art is on display, take a moment to see their amazing work. You can read more in this month’s newsletter.
Last month the VRA hosted our Zionsville Police Department. New Police Chief Spears and Captain Sterling gave us an update on the department and desire to be involved in neighborhoods, schools and churches in Zionsville. On the ZPD website, you can use a link to send an email in real-time. There’s also a form online if you’re planning to be out of town and would like the department to be aware. If you have any questions for the department, they encourage residents to reach out to ZPD; no problem is too small.
We also heard some ways we can help Village businesses in the cold winter months from the Zionsville Chamber. Buy a gift card, shop online if you can’t go in person, consider shoveling the sidewalk of a business, and leave an online review. These are all great ways to support them right now.
Make sure you have two dates on your calendar: our next VRA meeting at CoHatch on April 19, and our porch party on May 14 at 2 p.m. We’ve moved the progressive porch party date back a month to better ensure good weather. If you have a porch or yard you’d like to be considered for hosting, send a message to email@example.com.
Also in this month’s newsletter, town councilor Josh Garrett shares some fascinating information about snow plowing and what happens in the Village. I learned a lot. And read on for some tips for spring cleaning, which is just around the corner.
Letter from town council
I like to keep these columns as light and as informative as possible. Given the recent snows, I thought it might be good to dive into the how, when, and why of snow removal from a Town perspective. I was able to talk with DPW Director Lance Lantz and wanted to pass along what I learned.
The Town has eight salt trucks, each with plow capabilities, plus an additional nine plow trucks all within the Street Division of DPW. When needed, we can quickly add four more plow trucks from other town departments. The use of outside contractors is very rare, usually only once every few years; we line up private contractors when snowfall forecasts predict over 10” reliably.
We have assigned salt routes for each truck, so the same trucks are covering the same areas when salting. DPW have identified major roadways such as Ford Rd., Oak St., Zionsville Rd., all the obvious higher-travelled roads which are addressed first before moving into the subdivisions. Within the village area, the identified main roads to be prioritized are Oak St., 6th St., Ash St., Main St., and 1st St. It takes about 2.5 hours to apply salt to all town roads, and a full round takes anywhere from 50 to 75 tons depending on application rates based on forecasted precipitation type and amounts, air temperature, and pavement temperature.
DPW applies salt any time that road conditions are slick or will become slick, and typically treat all public town roads. As the town uses rock salt exclusively (no liquid pre-treatment, referred to as brine), the timing of truck deployment is important; if the salt is applied too early, then much if it is lost as traffic “wears” it away and effectiveness is diminished. Rock salt also must dissolve into solution to become effective, so salt won’t begin working immediately until it does so. To facilitate this, DPW uses a liquid treatment on the rock salt that is commonly referred to a “beet juice” which is an agricultural vegetable-based liquid. By mixing this in with the rock salt, this liquid facilitates a more rapid dissolving of the rock salt by providing that early liquid element, and it also is tacky, so the salt does not bounce off the road as much when applied in drier conditions.
The decision to plow is unique to each precipitation event. When salt supplies are adequate, every attempt is made to melt the snow/ice as much as possible since plowing creates conditions that everyone would like to avoid. No one wants to shovel more snow from sidewalks, or away from cars parked on the street. DPW typically plows all main roads when we don’t expect them to melt off soon, and these are usually plowed when 1.5” has accumulated and we are not confident the salt will completely address the needs. The secondary streets are usually plowed at 2” – 3” based on the same criterial. While the Village does not have many cul-de-sac bulbs, these do not usually see a plow until there is 3” of snow accumulation. The goal for all main roads is traction and safety, while the criteria for dead-end streets is to be passable; there is no need to see bare pavement on cul-de-sac bulbs as long as they can be traversed. During heavy snows, the Town will receive requests to plow gravel alleys. It is difficult to plow anything gravel, and most alleys are very tight with limited space. When we have tried to plow alleys, it results in gravel piles where no one wants them, and often damages the fences, landscaping, and other elements along these narrow alleys. What DPW will try to do, when requested, is simply drive our pickups through the alleys with the plow partially down to compact the snow and make them drivable.
The Village receives priority preference, and there is one truck dedicated to salting and plowing it. This means the side streets in the village are plowed hours before commensurate streets in subdivisions. One anomaly is Main St. when it comes to plowing. We do not plow Main St. until later in a storm, as it often requires us to haul away snow since there is no room to put the snow once we get 6” or so. This is when you see piles plowed to the intersections, then soon thereafter you see the backhoes loading snow into dump trucks.
It takes around six hours to completely plow all streets in town one time, exclusive of the cul-de-sac bulbs. Since we now have over 200 of these across town, it adds another six hours of time for all plow drivers to clear these once the decision to do so has been made. During a major snow event of 5”+/- or more, we work to keep roads passable during the snowfall. Once the snow has ended or nearly so, then we go back to all routes and touch up the areas needed, such as completely clearing intersections and turn lanes. As this happens in the hours after everyone has begun travelling, we often come back through the village area to plow places where cars had been parked. However, they try to use good judgment when doing so, as once everyone has cleared sidewalks, it can make things worse.
Some tips and comments from Mr. Lantz for residents:
- Avoid parking on streets whenever possible.
- Residents are required by ordinance to clear any sidewalk along their property’s frontage.
- There is no other practical method to plow snow other than from the center to the edges, which is where sidewalks can be adjacent to the street.
- When shoveling sidewalks and driveways, don’t throw snow into the streets with the assumption that it will melt. While this can be the case, it also can overwhelm the amount of salt on the road, rendering it ineffective and creating ice speedbumps and slick spots.
- Remember where we live, this is Indiana! Nature usually takes care of snow within a week or two.
That may have been more than you ever wanted to learn about snow removal in Zionsville, but I found the information from Mr. Lantz to be both interesting and informative.
Stay safe and stay warm!
Youth Art Month
In 1961, Youth Art Month had its beginnings first to promote art for children, then expanded several years later to include older students. Throughout the month in Zionsville, students’ art decorates walls and windows of various businesses and offices throughout the town. The event emphasizes art education, self-expression, problem solving, creativity and communication.
This year, Zionsville students will have art displayed at the SullivanMunce Cultural Center and Goodman Jewelry along with these locations:
Black Dog Books
Indiana Realtors Group
The Nail Connection
CV Art and Frame
Blooms by DragonFly
Art in Hand
Old National Bank
Jewel Box Jewelers
Michele’s on Main
Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream
Midwest Jewelers and Estate Buyers
Set for Spring Cleaning
When the weather warms and windows open, it’s time to freshen homes and remove the dust that’s collected over the many months of those enclosed winter months. While some are ready to tackle spring cleaning head on, others might find it daunting. The focus of spring cleaning should be those areas that are usually neglected other times of the year. Here are ten places that are often ignored, so cleaning in March is the perfect opportunity to tackle them:
- Light fixtures. Start with the top, which usually means light fixtures. Dust lightbulbs and fixtures, plus any fan blades.
- Trim, molding and cabinets. With a damp cloth, wipe dust from ceiling and floor molding. It’s a good time to wipe the faces of cabinets as well. For bathroom and kitchen cabinets, consider using antibacterial wipes.
- Fridge. Pull out all items from your fridge and freezer. If it’s expired or you don’t know what it is, toss it! Wipe down shelves and empty the ice maker. Then sweep or vacuum underneath and ensure there’s no dust around coils.
- Pantry. Just as with the refrigerator, go through items and toss anything that has expired. Wipe down shelves and make sure it’s reorganized to work well with your life.
- Garbage disposal. Wipe down the inside with a disinfectant wipe to reduce odors and eliminate the potential for fruit flies as the weather warms.
- Oven. One of my favorite ways to clean an oven is using baking soda and white vinegar. Remove all racks from the oven, then sprinkle baking soda on the bottom concentrating on the dirtiest areas. Use a spray bottle with vinegar to dampen the baking soda. It will bubble and foam. Allow to sit for 20 minutes or so, then wipe with a damp cloth.
- Trash cans. Start spring anew without all the spilled food and grime from the past year. On a warm day, scrub all interior and exterior trash cans and let the sun’s rays dry them.
- Air vents and bathroom fan grills. This is often better for a fall checklist, before the vents get a huge amount of use over the winter, but spring is an ideal time to vacuum dust away from these areas.
- Medicine cabinet. Dispose of old medications that have expired, wipe down shelves, and reorganize so it’s easy to find what you need.
- Rugs. Bathroom rugs, rugs by doors and pet beds can be washed or shaken outdoors to remove all of the collected winter grime. Now is the time to vacuum under large rugs, and turn them so they wear evenly.
Once all those neglected areas of the home are tackled, get ready the rest of the year with these three additional tips:
- Develop a weekly cleaning routine. If you don’t already have a schedule, consider making a list of what needs to be done each week and splitting it up by day. This makes cleaning a house more manageable.
- Replenish supplies. Cleaning is easier with the right tools. Check what’s nearly empty or what additional cleaning items you might require, and take advantage of spring cleaning sales to restock.
- Annual tasks. Don’t forget to do those tasks that should be done each year at minimum: clean your washing machine, change furnace filters, change batteries in smoke detectors and rotate your mattress.