ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury needs a new $15,000 utility vehicle for its park maintenance crews. Should it spend double to get one capable of clearing snow from the parks' paved paths?
That was a question debated recently by the township Mayor and Council, a discussion that saw Roxbury Councilman Mark Crowley challenging Roxbury Councilman Jim Rilee’s contention that the machine – while nice to have – would be a waste of money better spent elsewhere.
The back-and-forth came during a discussion of the proposed 2020 capital budget. Roxbury Public Works Department Director Rick Blood said the township needs to replace a 20-year-old golf cart used by town employees to get around the parks.
It would cost Roxbury about $15,000 to replace that 2-wheel-drive vehicle, which doesn’t have a snowplow or salt spreader, according to Blood. For an extra $15,000 the town could buy a 4-wheel-drive machine that has a plow and salt spreader, he said.
Asked, by the council, why the paths can’t be cleared with a snowplow-equipped pickup truck, Blood said the trucks' 8-foot-wide plows are too wide. “I can’t be tearing up the lawn every time there’s a corner or something,” he explained.
The machine being considered “will have a V-plow on it that’s only six feet wide, so it will go around the paths,” Blood said. “It will have a spreader that drops the (deicing) material behind, so we will have a maintained pathway at Horseshoe Lake and Landing Park.
Crowley,an avid walker, supported the idea.
“During the last couple of snowfalls, there were so many people looking for a place to walk,” he said. “You don’t see them on the street, because it’s dangerous, and they’re coming to Horseshoe Lake."
The councilman said he is amazed by how many people he encounters, at all times of day, using the paths and trails.
"I’m out there at night and 5:30 to quarter-to-six in the morning; it’s still dark and people are out there with flashlights on their heads running out there," he said. "I’ve been out there 9:30 to ten in the morning and there is a constant stream of people walking dogs, running and - of course - walking. It's constantly being used.”
Can't Have Everything
Rilee did not dispute Crowley’s observations, but he was not convinced about the necessity for a cart that has all the bells and whistles.
He pointed out that, aside from the extra $15,000 for the machine, there would be other added expenses involved with keeping the paths clear during the winter, including personnel time and cost for salt.
“While I 100 percent agree with you that it’s a nice feature, there are a lot of things that are nice to use that we could bring into town, and we don’t bring them all into town,” Rilee said. “So this is a nice feature. I just think the cost of it doesn’t outweigh where those dollars can be spent elsewhere. I think it’s a nice perk.”
But Crowley, noting Roxbury spends a lot of money on parks and facilities that benefit youths, said the 4-wheel-drive cart would be meaningful to a separate demographic of constituents.
“I’m looking at a different group of people, that are walkers, and we do have a lot of them and we have a lot of runners,” he said. “I think there is a large group of people who would benefit; an age group that wants to use it.”
The council is still in the discussion stages over the proposed capital budget. The decision about buying the better cart is one of many yet to be made before the new spending plan is adopted.