Unplowed alleys challenge St. Paul residents


Winter is here again, and along with it all the joys of living in Minnesota:  cars that won’t start, fingers that freeze while walking outside for two seconds, cars that get towed, slipping on the ice, etc.  For St. Paul residents there’s the added joy of having to plow their own alleyways, which for some reason the city doesn’t deem a necessary municipal expense. 

So how do St. Paul residents handle plowing their snow?  “Typically some neighbor does it,” St. Paul resident David Decoux wrote in, via twitter.  “There seems to be one on every block.”  Decoux wrote that from what he’s seen it’s handled by people with snow blowers and the odd person with a plow, who does it without pay.


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Scott Pakudaitis, who lives in Dayton’s Bluff, said he feels really lucky because there’s a guy on his block who has “one of those ATVs” and he takes care of plowing the alley, which is difficult to do because the block is on a hill.  Pakudaitis said when he first moved into the house, one of his neighbors organized a community plowing pool, “but too many people didn’t pay.”    

Though some neighbors will pool their resources and hire a plowing company to plow the alley, this can be a recipe for conflict if not all the neighbors agree to the expense. 

Greg S., who lives in the Wheelock Phalen area, said that on his block, which has a dead end alley, half the houses have driveways that lead directly to the street, while the other four houses have driveways leading to the alley.  The houses with the driveways leading to the street don’t want to chip in to get the alley plowed because they don’t use it.  The other four households each chip in $40-50 each for the winter to hire someone to come and plow. 

Greg said he felt alley plowing should be paid for by the Right of Way Maintenance Assessment, a fee that St. Paul homeowners have to pay on top of their property taxes.  Greg said that he paid $180 this year.  “And yet we have to pay to have our alley way cleared, which stinks,” he said.  Or, Greg said, the city could increase property taxes by a dollar per square foot.  “That would be a huge saving for me,” he said.  

How does your block handle the plowing situation?  Do your neighbors pool together to hire someone to plow?  Is there someone on your block that has a plow or a snow blower?  Do you just let it remain unplowed?  And do you have names of reliable alley snow-plowers? Share your story in the comment section or write an article or blog post about your experience.