The Flame - December 2012

In this issue:

  • Let it Snow, Let it Snow
  • Understanding the City’s Sidewalk Ordinance
  • Tree-cycling Offered Again This Year
  • Save Energy This Winter... and Be Comfortable, Too!
  • Cold Weather Precautions from the Utilities Department

Let it Snow, Let it Snow

City website is where to go when snowflakes start to fall in Lawrence

During snow operations, residents can set their browsers to to receive the latest information on snow plowing, salting, city closures and other related information. The website will provide a listing of current press releases, contact information, citizen responsibilities and snow-related resources.

The snow operations map will only be utilized when crews are in full snow operations mode; crews may pre-treat areas if slick road conditions are predicted but the map will be most helpful when accumulation or major winter weather is predicted or occurring. Full snow operations go into effect at a depth of three inches.

During snow operations, Public Works staff will be responsible for monitoring areas that have been addressed and updating the snow map. The operations map will provide citizens with general information on where trucks are operating, where streets have been plowed, sanded or salted, and the ability to review traffic cameras at major intersections to see how traffic is flowing during snow operations.

Understanding the City’s Sidewalk Ordinance

What is the property owner’s responsibility?

According to the City Code 16-115, Lawrence property owners must keep the sidewalks adjacent to their property clear of snow and ice within 48 hours of a winter storm. This ordinance applies to all public sidewalks in the city limits. The city’s snow ordinance was revised in 2008 to strengthen the policy related to property owner responsibilities.

What are the consequences of not clearing your sidewalks?

If property owners fail to comply with the ordinance, a citation will be written. Fines for not clearing sidewalks are $20 for each day the violation occurs, plus court costs, if found guilty of the violation. This ordinance is in place to make public sidewalks safe for pedestrians. For more information on the snow and ice removal ordinance, contact Development Services at (785) 832-7700 or visit

How can you help others in your neighborhood with their sidewalks?

Safe Winter Walkways is a partnership between the City of Lawrence and Douglas County Senior Services and matches residents needing assistance with snow removal with volunteers. Volunteers are asked to commit to the entire winter season and visit each time snow falls. This program is an excellent resource for members of our community who physically can’t keep their sidewalks clear during snow events. Volunteers or those needing assistance can sign up by calling (785) 832-3338 or register online at Applications for assistance will only be accepted until December 31, 2012.

Tree-cycling Offered Again This Year

‘Tis almost the season to recycle your old Christmas tree. After Christmas, please place your live-cut tree at the curb or alley for collection on Monday, December 31 and Monday, January 7. The trees will be used for wildlife habitat. Please remove all artificial items including tinsel, lights, tree stand, etc. and have your tree set out at the curb by 6:00 a.m.

For more information, please call the Waste Reduction and Recycling Division at (785) 832-3030 or visit

Save Energy This Winter... and Be Comfortable, Too!

  • Stay cozy by plugging air leaks and insulating. Sealing up air leaks with caulking and weather stripping and installing adequate insulation will not only increase comfort, but will reduce home heating costs by up to 20%. Focus your efforts on cracks near windows and doors.
  • Let a programmable thermostat “remember” for you to lower the heat when you leave the house for a day of gift shopping (or overnight when you’re cozy in bed). You can program it to warm up again shortly before you return.
  • Be merry about low energy bills. Use LED holiday lights instead of traditional bulbs. LED holiday lights use 90% less energy. Consider putting your holiday yard displays on a timer to reduce wasted energy.
  • Adjust your humidity. A well-humidified house at 68-degrees Fahrenheit is as comfortable as a dry house at 75-degrees.
  • Cooking some warm comfort foods? Don’t sneak a peek! Opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside - by as much as 25-degrees - which increases cooking time and wastes energy.
  • Start a sweater trend. Wearing sweaters or other warm clothes at home will help hold in your body heat naturally.
  • Close that furnace damper. When you’re not using the fireplace, closing the damper could save 8% of your home’s heat.

For More Information

Cold Weather Precautions from the Utilities Department

Before leaving your home to travel for the holidays, check your plumbing - indoor and outdoor - to ensure that you won’t come home to an unexpected water problem. To prevent frozen pipes, the Utilities Department provides the following tips:

  • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses to allow water to drain from the pipe.
  • Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas such as in an unheated garage or cold crawl space.
  • Seal off cracks, such as repairing broken windows, but be careful not to plug furnace and water heater vents.
  • Find the master shut-off valve so that if a water line breaks it can be shut off immediately to minimize water damage.
  • Leave cabinet doors open under sinks to allow warm air to circulate around the water pipes.
  • During extended absences away from home, leave the heat on to avoid broken pipes inside the home.

What if it’s too late? You wake up to find the pipes are frozen despite your precautions - call a plumber. If you have questions, please call the City of Lawrence Utility Billing Office at (785) 832-7878. For water emergencies, after 5:00 p.m., weekends or holidays, can be reported to (785) 843-7800.

Looking for more information about your local water and trash services? Visit