Answer Man: I've been seeing some movement in the RPU location on West Silver Lake Drive. What are they doing there? Is this property still owned by the city or has it been sold? — Pat Cole
Pat: The work you have been seeing at the former power plant is the continued demolition and transition of the site, which remains in the Rochester Public Utilities portfolio.
Recent work has involved seeding a space that will become the future home to what is commonly known as the Silver Lake Snow Dump.
As I noted in a previous column, the dump that currently sits along Seventh Street Northeast in Silver Lake Park is on its way out. Park users and others have requested the city find another option for snow collected from downtown streets.
It was one of the first challenges that faced Chris Petree when he became the city’s new Public Works director last year.
Earlier this year, the city identified the nearby RPU site as an alternative, but noted work needed to be done before any snow could be delivered, since drainage issues will be a concern without the proper infrastructure in place.
Petree, who has since resigned his position to enter the private sector, told one of my minions last month that his department worked with the city’s Park and Recreation Department to plant new grass at the new site before snow started falling, but it will need a year to grow before it can be covered with mounds of snow. Otherwise, the snow pile would likely give way to a muddy mess in the spring.
As a result, one more year of a snow pile along the lake is in the forecast.
Even when the new site is ready to accept snow, it remains unclear what will happen if we see a repeat of last year’s heavy snowfalls.
The Silver Lake site overflowed by the end of last winter, forcing crews to truck downtown snow to Olmsted County property on the east side of the city. With the added fuel and manpower expenses associated to hauling snow that far, it might make sense to find an alternative overflow site closer to downtown.