WEST ORANGE, NJ - Over the past two weeks, the Department of Public Works in West Orange has been working around the clock to clear roads and areas of snow mounds that have been limiting visibility and making driving difficult for residents. Several accidents have occurred on Pleasant Valley Way due to narrowed roadways and impaired visibility. In fact, during the township council meeting, Councilman Jerry Guarino noted that West Orange will be reaching out to Essex County regarding a traffic study at Pleasant Valley Way and Alisa Drive.
Anthony Puglisi, publicist for Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, advised the Township Council that the West Orange Department of Public Works should assess the situation and present their findings to to Essex County Department of Public Works, who will ascertain, what, if anything, should be done at the corner that many parents consider dangerous for new student drivers.
In addition, several residents complained that the township did not contact them prior to snow removal efforts in their neighborhoods. According to Township Administrator Jack Sayers, most, though not all, neighborhoods received notification of snow mound removal in advance, whether it was during the day or late at night.
At the Feb. 25 Township Council meeting, not only did residents complain that the noise of the trucks kept them awake late at night, they complained that the township was endangering open space areas in the township by depositing the snow in town-owned land.
The Alternative Press reached out to West Orange township and was provided with the following from the office of Mayor Robert Parisi:
"On Thursday, February 20, 2014 a representative from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Water Quality Enforcement Unit was at the site and had concerns regarding water runoff and soil conservation.
On the same day a representative from the Hudson, Essex, Passaic Soil Conservation District visited the site and advised the Township to install a tracking pad at the entrance to the sight to avoid tracking soil onto Mount Pleasant Avenue and to avoid causing runoff from flowing directly onto the highway.
On Friday February 21, 2014 the following actions were taken by the Township based upon the above recommendations:
a) The Township installed a tracking pad.
b) Created a stone berm to stop the melting snow from running down Mount Pleasant Avenue.
c) The Township groomed the existing snow piles to ensure that water from the melting snow is directed toward the catch basin on the property.
1.) Normally streets are just plowed based on low snow accumulations. However when the snow accumulations are as large as they were during the last storm the snow must be removed for public safety reasons as well as for areas of the township that rely on on-street parking.
a) Snow was removed to several locations including Mount Pleasant Avenue, Colgate Park, the Recycling Center and other smaller areas in the Township.
b) Due to the amount of snow the Township needed additional space for removal.
2.) The snow does not have a high salt content due to the unprecedented shortage of salt in New Jersey that also affected the Township’s use of salt during the recent storm. The snow brought to the site was from several areas of the Township that consisted of all flat streets and no hills, therefore requiring less or no salt use during the snow storm.
3.) This site is graded such that the runoff, including that from melting snow will naturally drain toward the middle of the property and away from the residential properties from the North, West and East.
The runoff from the melting snow will flow toward Mount Pleasant Avenue towards the driveway and detention basin at the front right corner of the property.
The existing snow piles have been groomed to ensure that water from the melting snow is directed toward the catch basin on the property.
There was also a stone berm created to stop the melting snow from going onto Mount Pleasant Avenue.
4.) The noise unfortunately is a necessary consequence of doing the Township’s business which at the time was removing snow for the Public Safety of all our residents.
5.) In retrospect part of our reverse 911 call to the residents should have mentioned the areas in the Township where snow was going to be taken and at what times this operation was going to be done.
6.) This land was purchased as open space and will remain as open space. Bringing snow to this site does not change its use. In fact, this site fits the design of an area that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would want the Township to use as a snow disposal area based on the DEP’s Snow Removal and Disposal Policy dated February 8, 2013."
Residents that would like to complain about the process or offer suggestions can contact Theresa DeNova of the West Orange Department of Health at firstname.lastname@example.org.