Oak Lawn’s Salt Supply Dwindling

Winter storms are causing some municipalities to scramble for road salt, including Oak Lawn, whose own supply is dwindling.

Accident at 5 p.m. Monday at 93rd and Meade. According to the motorist whose car got hit, snow-packed side streets caused the other car slide past a stop sign into the intersection. Photo submitted by resident.
Accident at 5 p.m. Monday at 93rd and Meade. According to the motorist whose car got hit, snow-packed side streets caused the other car slide past a stop sign into the intersection. Photo submitted by resident.

The village is using its supply of road salt “judiciously” as supplies are running low after being hit by a succession of plow-and-salt worthy winter storms within the past week.

Residents' reviews of the Oak Lawn Public Works Department’s snow removal efforts since New Year’s Eve are mixed, with some residents complaining that their side streets aren’t getting plowed, let alone salted. By Saturday, rumors began to swirl of a salt shortage in the village.

Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said the village is waiting for another road salt delivery, but ice on the Cal-Sag is preventing a barge from reaching the port in Lemont.

“We buy in volume,” Deetjen said. “The salt dome only stores so much salt. When we get down to a certain volume, we order more.”

Deetjen explained that the company the village purchases salt from has been slow on deliveries.

“We’ve been holding off on salt. We don’t want to run out. We try to keep the main routes going.”

Village streets have gotten at least one pass since pass from plows since Oak Lawn got dumped with 8.2 inches of snow on Sunday, Deetjen said.

Oak Lawn has budgeted $150,944 for road salt in 2014. The average cost for road salt is approximately $51 per ton. Deetjen added that ordering is based volume remaining from last year and expenditures from past budgets. 

Some Chicago suburbs are also reporting road salt shortages leaving municipalities scurrying to replenish supplies, according to a report by ABC 7 news.

And don’t expect residential main roads, arterial and side streets to get salted until temperatures warm up into the 30s later this week. Salt loses its melting power when temperatures drop to 10-15 degrees and becomes ineffective, unless treated with calcium chloride, WGN-TV chief meteorologist Tom Skilling explains.

Meanwhile, Oak Lawn residents continue to express their dissatisfaction with snow-packed side streets. As one Patch reader put it, “nothing tweaks the citizenry quite like snow-packed roads and lazy trash collection,” which has been known to cause voters to sack mayors and municipal administrations.

OakLawnGuy January 07, 2014 at 08:33 AM
It's true that the salt will do no good until temps rise. It would be less of a problem if plowing was planned more efficiently. Our street was plowed three times...yesterday. Too late to do much good except to block me and my elderly neighbors in their driveways. Maybe the Mgr has a good explanation, and I hope it's something besides a big slap on the back of the poor plow drivers. I'll wait and see.
Mike January 07, 2014 at 08:42 AM
6 plows would be in a convoy - each one if them dropping down salt...too bad the plows behind them were plowing over the same area as the guy ahead...wasted salt right there (whens my village interview? I could use his $154k/yr).
Mike January 07, 2014 at 09:05 AM
Find out how your crew is using the supply they DO have before you take the easy escape by blaming the weather. The last I checked, this weather is expected and shouldn't be a surprise (even to a Floridian).
Oak Lawn Gal January 07, 2014 at 09:16 AM
Our street was plowed once. Now the snow is so packed and frozen I don't think plowing would do any good.
Burbank Beat January 07, 2014 at 11:02 AM
My observation while driving the local roadways is that Oak Lawn streets are in far worse condition than those in Burbank. That being said, I think that sometimes we expect too much from our public works departments. We can't expect instant results and have to give them several days to recover from a winter storm of the magnitude that we've just encountered. The streets aren't perfect but they're certainly passable.
tmarc75 January 07, 2014 at 11:20 AM
I deliver for a local eatery. Burbank and Oak Lawn streets are in comparable shape. You want to see bad, try to drive down a side street in nearby Chicago. Awful.
olchsmom January 07, 2014 at 11:32 AM
tmarc75, I grew up in nearby Chicago and I know exactly what you mean. We had ruts in the middle of the roads that wouldn't go away until spring. It was quite a challenge to drive in. The streets of Oak Lawn aren't great but at least the snow has been flattened and in this cold the salt won't work anyway.
andy skoundrianos January 07, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Side Streets are passable, Main roads are good,is it perfect no It never was as long as I have lived in Oak Lawn for 46 years and as long as we don't have a power outage I can live with it
Luther January 07, 2014 at 11:49 AM
So, the Village does a poor job covering an event they knew was coming yet seemingly were not prepared for. Remember, this is Chicago not Atlanta. While many, if not most, of the surrounding communities handled this storm much better, we get excuses about how it’s all the venders fault. We are then expected to give them several days to recover. I’d be willing to agree if they in turn would give us several days to pay for our water bills, vehicle stickers, business licenses, parking tickets, etc., etc., when we are recovering from some storm in our lives.
Luther January 07, 2014 at 11:59 AM
By the way. I had a patch of ice by my back door yesterday. Went and threw a handful of salt (blue stuff) I bought at Home Depot on it. In about thirty minutes I was able to scrape up the ice patch. The word everyone leaves out when decribing salts use in cold weather is that it is LESS effective. It still works.
Time.To.Clean.Up.Oak.Lawn. January 07, 2014 at 01:08 PM
The bottom line is it was Larry's job to make sure we had enough salt and it didn't do it in a very big way. No blaming vendors or the weather. That salt should of been there waiting for the weather. Larry needs to be fired.
Raccoons Gone Bad January 07, 2014 at 01:38 PM
So what do you do for a living, Time.To.Clean.Up.Oak.Lawn?
andy skoundrianos January 07, 2014 at 01:56 PM
Any excuse to rip Deetjen is all the anti administration people or persons (more likely) need to complain about. If we had no snow they would say Larry bought too much salt we don't need it and he needs to be fired They will never be happy unless he is gone
Bob January 07, 2014 at 04:57 PM
Some people will back this administration no matter what it does right or wrong.
Scott P Steen January 07, 2014 at 07:49 PM
I don't post much on the "Oak Lawn Patch " but there is a lot of negative people here and most not using there real name . I would like to thank the guy in truck # 66 this weekend for doing a great job . working in the most miserable conditions and horrible hours . Luther the blue salt you threw on your icy spot cost wholesale 400-450 a ton vs 50 a ton should we raise your Taxes . And in keeping with sprit of the patch the Mayor must have caused this .
Mike Fields January 07, 2014 at 08:31 PM
Good point Scott, the plow truck drivers did a great job in terrible conditions, the post above claiming extra time to pay his bills because the Village didn't plow the streets to his satisfaction must have never done a hard days work in his life.
Time.To.Clean.Up.Oak.Lawn. January 08, 2014 at 04:54 AM
Dear Raccoon....my employment has nothing to do with the legitimacy of my statements. If declaration of "what you do for a living" was required then Andy's comments would be invalid as they were typed. Dear Scott and Mike....Good for you guys to be able to post with your names attached. Again this is not a required and some here cannot for fear of repercussions from the Village. That is not a wild eyed conspiracy theory either after the uncovering of the "Phelan Hit List" and the most definite ties to Madigan that the board, Village President and Manager have. And finally....my posts and those of many others are not casting disappointment in the actual work of the men/women of the street department. But tossing out that they are working in deplorable conditions...well honestly that is part of their job. As it is many others who have no choice but to head out in this weather to keep the world safe and moving. A member of this household had a job such as this and knew it when they took the position. That is what you do. It is called dependability and job integrity. The issue is that these same men/women were shorthanded in their ability to fulfill this portion of their job with Larry Deetjen's shortfall on the salt order. HE is the one at fault. As is the Mayor because well she is the MAYOR. Larry is the Village Manager. His job is act like the octopus and make sure all the arms of the village are working properly. HE dropped the ball in a very big way. Whether he forgot to order the salt, or thought we could skate by without it this winter and then panic ordered and got caught with the shortcoming...he is still to blame. And trying to turn the blame on a vendor is truly insightful to his lack of integrity. That vendor takes a order and fulfills it to their ability. The Cal Sag freezes...it's winter...this happens every year. The vendor has no choice but to work with the weather. Larry had a choice to put the order in months earlier as 90% of responsible surrounding municipalities do for the safety and care of their residents. We are taxpayers. Clear and safe streets are part of what we pay for. Our streets are in no means safe at this time.
Billy Bulldozer January 08, 2014 at 09:13 AM
A couple comments about road salt. First, it is probably cheaper to buy in the off season vs. buying it in late November or December when you need it. Second, did the village have any left over from last year? A supply of road salt can last and the stockpile will erode very little if it is covered properly. Third, this ties in to the second point, when was the order placed for this winter season? If delivery was delayed because of freezing on the Cal-Sag this could have been avoided if delivery to Oak Lawn were made prior to the Cal-Sag freezing. This is not rocket science here folks but, in my opinion it is an example of trying to eek out a cost savings for the village to show mismanagement by the prior administration. The current administration got caught short handed and now the village, as a whole, has to suffer.
Grunty January 08, 2014 at 09:34 AM
Geez people, buy some tires for your crappy beater and drive with caution, or is that the mayors fault as well?
andy skoundrianos January 08, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Time you are against this administration the Mayor and the manager Every post you have rips this administration and there are a lot of them. You are not unbiased and neither am I You are using this weather event to score political points that's fine but don't act like your the independent concerned resident. You choose to be anonymous for a reason, No one will care about this so called " issue " in 2 months The streets today look pretty good maybe that's my biased view.
Bob January 08, 2014 at 11:06 AM
The streets in Evergreen Park and Chicago Ridge are always better cleared and salted than Oak Lawn. OL is a joke! What the heck do our taxes pay for???
Time.To.Clean.Up.Oak.Lawn. January 08, 2014 at 02:18 PM
Dear Andy, As usual you never address any points made in a comment you just attack. It's your buddy-pack plan on how to handle anything that becomes "too hot". Your absolutely right I did not vote for Bury. But regardless she is "my mayor" as she elected to an office to be the figurehead for ALL of Oak Lawn. She is not just the Mayor of "Andy and Friends" . And thus I hold her to her campaign promises of integrity, transparency and honesty. And she has yet to show a constancy in any of those traits. The development of the "Phelan Hit List" really was the turning point for me. I am now an active member of my village in that I make a point to be well informed. I will read everything, attend many meetings and know truly what is going on. Why? Because I have a vested interested. I own a home. I pay property taxes. I work for a business that operates in Oak Lawn. Can you state that you have any of these reasons to be vested in the interest of Oak Lawn Andy? Homeowner...no. Tax payer...double no/no home no job. So since you have no job...just a check from the state...you could care less about the business end of the community. You are just their mouthpiece. You have shown that you will walk lock step with who ever will be your buddy. I am very happy to see that Lorraine is starting to write some articles showing a bit more of the "backroom" of this administration with the Deetjen accident and now "Saltgate". He needs to be held to the standards that we as taxpayers and basically his employers expect. We have all been witness to his ability to disgrace and fire others for his own personal whim. Integrity would be to hold himself to the same standard. Basically Sandy and Pals won the election but in the long run they will lose as people are seeing that the lines fed to them in a smear campaign were just that lines. My hope is that amount of damage done can be reversed with even just a Village Manager who has integrity and a vested interested in where WE all live.
Billy Bulldozer January 08, 2014 at 02:40 PM
Because someone else brought up integrity and honesty I will ask this: if Dr. Sandra Bury operates a successful(?) business in Oak Lawn, did she start getting health insurance coverage from the village after she was elected? If reform is on her agenda then wouldn't she just continue her health insurance through her business, as the owner? Why place an additional un-necessary burden on the village's health insurance program?
andy skoundrianos January 08, 2014 at 04:36 PM
Time your sure seem to know a lot about me kinda weird and scary but understood because I used to hang around the people you know ,like and support. By using my real name and identity I'm fair game you on the other hand as all of the pro Heilmann Streit and Brennan crowd all hide behind fake names because not as you say you " fear " retribution but because everyone knows who you are the three or 4 people who use about a hundred fake identities on these posts. You are also wrong on you assumptions about my home situation but you already know that In the end you reap what you sow ask the former Mayor how that feels
Luther January 08, 2014 at 05:32 PM
Et tu andy, Et tu....pot...kettle.
andy skoundrianos January 08, 2014 at 07:58 PM
Okay " Luther" Nice Latin though
Billy Bulldozer February 03, 2014 at 08:53 AM
How's the Village's supply of road salt doing today? Are we down to buying table salt from Freshline Foods and spreading that?
OakLawnGuy February 03, 2014 at 09:29 AM
Oak Lawn was mentioned in passing during a WGN story I heard over the weekend regarding a number of Cook County municipalities lacking road salt.
Billy Bulldozer February 03, 2014 at 09:34 AM
I wonder if there's a village salt truck solely assigned to follow Larry Deetjen around?


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