During any significant snowfall, it’s not unusual for municipalities around the county to declare a snow emergency.
Carlisle is always absent from that list of municipalities because it does not have an ordinance allowing a snow emergency to be declared.
Borough Manager Matt Candland said enacting such an ordinance was discussed five or six years ago, but officials decided against it because the solution, in some ways, was worse than the problem the borough was trying to solve.
A sampling of snow emergency policies in nearby municipalities shows that they were enacted to facilitate the movement of traffic and to mitigate hazards from snow and ice on the designated route. The policies require parked vehicles to be removed from the street and, even in these days of all-season tires, require snow tires or chains on cars being driven on the street.
Another reason to enact such ordinances is to ensure that emergency vehicles can pass through the streets, Candland said.
Carlisle has several challenges when it comes to enacting a snow emergency ordinance. The first of those challenges sounds familiar to Carlisle residents: “A number of our roads are PennDOT roads so we’re limited in what we can do there,” Candland said.
Parking also is a problem. If certain roads are declared snow emergency routes with parking banned on that street for the duration of the emergency, there must be an alternative for those who would normally park on that street, Candland said.
The Pomfret Street parking garage or the borough’s surface lots could be options, but a number of spaces in those facilities are leased. Moving residents’ cars to those lots would create a cascade effect by pushing out the people who use the leased spaces, Candland said.
“So those are two of the big challenges — state roads and the fact that you move parking around and we don’t have a lot of options,” he said.
Even without the option of a snow emergency, Candland contends the borough has a “decent approach” to cleaning up after a snowstorm thanks to the usual parking restrictions.
People commonly think the restrictions on parking for certain hours of specified days on the borough streets are just for street sweeping, but that is not the case.
“If we needed to fix a curb, if we needed to pave a section of road, if we needed to sweep the street or if we needed to plow the snow, we have those regulations to allow us to perform maintenance on those streets,” Candland said.
When there has been heavy snowfall, that snow was able to be removed on days that cars were not supposed to be parked on those streets, he said.
For the most part, though, the borough doesn’t have to go to such lengths.
“Fortunately, most of our snow melts pretty quickly,” Candland said.