Dec 092018
 

The definition of ‘serendipity’ is ‘the occurrence and development of events by chance in a beneficial way’, or simply stated ‘a stroke of luck’. Naperville city officials might want to consider establishing a new Department of Serendipity within city government.

Naperville city officials are on roll of good luck. Earlier in the year, they called for resident-volunteers to create a group called ‘Drain Defenders’ to help unclog street drains of leaves and debris. When rain, a snowstorm, and ice hit Naperville November 25, it covered piles of leaves on about 40% of Naperville’s streets. Snowplows then pushed piles of leaves around many of which found their way to covering street drains. Bingo, Drain Defenders to the rescue.

Depending upon how many residents volunteered, Naperville has either an army of Drain Defenders (which is what is needed especially now) or if just a few folks volunteered, making the ‘army’ more like a gang. Either way, one Drain Defender is better than none.

During that same weather event, traffic signals became covered with ice and snow making it nearly impossible to see the stop-and-go lights. A few accidents occurred in Naperville, fortunately with no serious injuries. Apparently the problem was another ‘Trifecta of Nature’, 1) blowing snow, 2) it was wet and icy, and 3) newly installed LED traffic signal lights throughout Naperville don’t heat up enough to melt snow and ice.

Here comes the serendipity part, why not have city officials reach out for a new opportunity; a resident-volunteer group called ‘Traffic Signal Light Defenders’. Just like Drain Defenders, people can volunteer to clear off traffic signal lights. The city issued the first 100 Drain Defenders with a rake, a shovel, and a nifty orange vest, they could do the same with Traffic Signal Light Defenders by issuing an inexpensive tall ladder, an ice scrapper, a huge can of Rain-X, and florescent orange vest.

Naperville city officials have always wanted residents to be more involved with city government, this would help achieve that goal. The ultimate goal could be to have every Naperville resident volunteer to do something, in essence cutting expenses and lowering the budget. It would almost be like a colony of bees with everybody doing something.

There is no end to what Naperville’s Department of Serendipity, headed by its Director, could ask volunteer-residents to defend for including:

  1. Road-kill collector
  2. Street sweeping
  3. Code enforcement (neighbors not shoveling sidewalks)
  4. Mowing city property
  5. Changing street light bulbs
  6. Tax collector
  7. Court jester, during city council meetings
  8. City council member
  9. Timekeeper…residents can tell speakers when their 3 minutes are up during public forum. Better than paying the current time keeper.
  10. BS detector…they can Google every ‘fact’ the council states, if it doesn’t pass muster, an emoji of shame is shown over the person who made the fake statement.

To think it all started with Drain Defenders. Well, it actually started with Naperville city officials not having a better, well-thought-out plan for removing leaves from city streets.

Dec 022018
 

It’s been said that given a sufficient amount of time anything that can happen will happen. It didn’t take long for it  to happen in Naperville. November 25th, the day the Trifecta of Nature occurred;  rain, snow, and ice, on top of piles of leaves on the streets of family-friendly Naperville.

It was a beautiful sight, unless you had to drive or had leaves neatly piled at curbside. Over one-third of Naperville’s residents, primarily on the south side of town, still have leaves in their streets, but no longer neatly piled at curbside. The snow plows made sure of that by re-distributing the mess, much of which will find its way to Naperville’s street drains, where they may still be sitting until spring or when Naperville’s newly formed army of resident drain-defenders get to work with their rakes and shovels pushing it elsewhere.

Naperville’s curbside leaf collection program includes three leaf collections; one every two weeks scheduled to end this year on November 30. It ended five days early when Naperville had to convert all of its 22 trucks for snow plowing. So residents were left with wet leaves and soon to-be clogged street drains which can lead to flooding in spring.

Naperville city officials knew this could happen, but other than forming an army or likely a gang of drain-defenders, they did nothing to increase their odds of successfully keeping the streets clear of leaves. I don’t ever remember this being an issue when I was young, back when dirt was new. I do remember the autumn aroma of leaves burning, a sure sign that fall had arrived. I also remember the sound of fire engines racing through neighborhoods.

Naperville city officials (who are they?) did say that if storm sewer drains need to be cleared. the city can help if it becomes an issue. It would seem to be a good idea to do it now, rather than waiting until spring flooding.

Apparently it became an issue last Wednesday when enough residents complained to the city and on social media, and city officials had no choice but to reverse its decision to cancel the last leaf pick-up cycle, and decided to complete the third round of leaf pick-up.

So now it becomes a race between trucks converted for leaf pick-up and trucks converted for snow plows intermixed with garbage and recycling trucks, along with drain defenders against lots of frozen and wet leaves which have been plowed all over the streets and squashed by cars, trucks, and school buses.

City officials said via a Naper Notify message, “Please note, depending on this winter’s weather, this may take into the early months of 2019 to complete.” That’s code for “it may take all the way to the beginning of next year’s first leaf pick-up.”

In the meantime, let’s hope the army/gang of drain defenders are up to the task of working overtime and have the ability to dodge trucks picking-up leaves.