SPARTA, NJ - With  the next winter storm forecast for early Thursday morning, Sparta Police Chief Ernest Reigstad and Interim Township Manager Steve Levinson discussed township preparations at the township council meeting on Tuesday night.

The primary concern, as stated by Reigstad, is to get the streets clear, especially of automobiles. The police will be more vigilant in enforcing ordinances that prohibit overnight street parking during winter months. He asked residents to notify police if they are unable to make it home, abandoning their vehicle on the road.  "Please give us a call.  We will try to work with you to find a safe place to move your car.  We can even try to drive you home."

Levinson also asked that residents understand that the roads may not be cleared curb to curb as they are used to seeing.  With the number of storms so close together and unrelenting cold temperatures, snow has frozen into solid snow dams.  There is a risk that township plow equipment will be damaged when hitting these snow dams.  The plow drivers will have to drive slower, taking more time to get through their routes and may not be able to clear curb to curb because of the hazard.

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Residents and  private contractors clearing driveways are reminded not to deposit snow into the road as these too create snow dams.  It is also a violation of township ordinance to do so.

Sparta residents are further reminded to clear the snow from around fire hydrants. The township fire officials have expressed concern that, as the snow piles up, the hydrants are disappearing from view.  If there is a fire hydrant on your property you have the duty of keeping the surrounding area clear.

The police department also reminds drivers to clear snow from their vehicles, including the roof, before getting on the road.  That is the law and it is being more strictly enforced.

The township has reported low salt reserves. Levinson explained Sparta has approximately 300 tons of sodium chloride and that it takes 100 tons to do one complete sweep of the town. He is not concerned about supplies for the storm anticipated for Thursday. Further, there is plenty of calcium chloride available to mix with grit as a back-up plan, should salt supplies run too low. 

The municipality explains that if solid waste pick-up is cancelled due to winter weather, the next pick-up day will be Monday, Feb 17.  If recycling pick-up is cancelled, residents are asked to remove their receptacle from the road and bring it back to the curb the next day, Friday, Feb 14.

Reigstad stated the municipal building is scheduled to be opened as a warming station. There may be additional facilities made available should conditions warrant. The township will post information on its website.