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Council Member Shapiro on the DPW’s Snow Removal: "They Have Done a Yeoman’s Job"

Eric Paragallo

Thursday, February 20, 2014 • 12:23am

LIVINGSTON, NJ – New Jersey was hit with another snow storm on Tuesday morning, leaving sloppy conditions in its wake for Livingston commuters including un-shoveled sidewalks, limited visibility on roadways due to high snow banks, and icy roadways caused by statewide salt shortages. Despite the difficult conditions, Livingston Town Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro said that Livingston’s Department of Public Works (DPW) did an exemplary job.

“Mike Anello and the DPW have done a Yeoman’s job,” said Shapiro. “They did the job we count on them to do and that’s the bottom line. Not every street’s pristine, but they did as good as they possibly could under difficult situations.”

“It was a really tough job,” said Andrew Giambattista of the DPW. “We worked as a tight unit. Once we were done with our own route of seven to 15 streets, we didn’t just go home after our shift—we called in to see who else was behind and/or needed help and then went over and helped them out.”

Part of the difficulties the DPW faced came as a result of statewide salt shortages. Reportedly, a foreign transport ship, currently docked in Maine is waiting for permission to transport 40,000 tons of rock salt to Port Newark. The ship is supposed to be headed to New Jersey but is waiting for a federal waiver before departing for Newark.

Shapiro said that the DPW was aware of the issue and made the salt that remained to them count.

“They made sure the salt we had left lasted,” said Shapiro. “They put it where it was needed most: at schools, on corners, and on hills, etc.”

Even with the DPW’s conservative approach, after Tuesday’s snow storm, Livingston’s salt supply has reportedly dwindled to almost nothing.

“The salt has been carefully managed, but my understanding is that we are really low on salt,” said Shapiro.

However, Shapiro added that she believes that at this point the necessity of salt is inconsequential.

“With the forecasted high temperatures, I don’t think there’s much chance of freezing roadways or a chance for much more snow,” said Shapiro.

Despite the DPW’s efforts, Livingston residents have still reported problems throughout the town—namely large snow piles at street corners limiting motorists’ visibility at turns and intersections. Shapiro said that until the snow clears up, the only way to avoid these dangers is to use caution.

“It’s still treacherous—you have snow, upon snow, upon snow, but there’s nowhere to put it,” said Shapiro. “Everybody should be driving defensively until visibility improves.”

“Residents should still try to keep their parked cars off the streets so we can plow as close to the curbs as possible,” added Giambattista.

The police have also received numerous complaints about uncleared sidewalks at various locations throughout the town. In Livingston, there is an ordinance that states that businesses and residents must keep their sidewalks cleared and that a failure to do so will result in a fine.

Shapiro said that if a sidewalk is not cleared, it is not because the police are not enforcing the ordinance, but rather because the ordinance will only be enforced through a citizen complaint.

“The police are supposed to be policing it, but we would need a much larger police force to stay completely on top of it,” said Shapiro. “The police will enforce the ordinance, but the citizens must first alert the police of the problems.”

In addition, with a potential warm up in weather conditions being forecasted for the near future and nearly 20 inches of snow currently blanketing much of Livingston, it has subsequently led to concerns of over flooding.

“Right now, we have snow blocking storm drains so there will be flooding problems, especially if those aren’t cleared,” said Shapiro.

Shapiro advised that citizens should either clear clogged storm drains themselves or to alert the DPW to such problems so that any excess flooding can be avoided.

Residents can alert the DPW to these issues, or similar issues, such as pot-holes that need to be filled or fire hydrants that need clearing by going to livingstontownship.org, clicking on ‘submit service request’ on the right hand side of the page, and then submitting the necessary information regarding the particular problem.

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