Ever since I was elected as 3rd Ward Councilman four years ago, I have advocated for improvements in quality of life issues that most directly impact the residents of Westfield. These are issues that residents are most likely to encounter on a daily basis, such as road improvements, snow plowing, the Conservation Center, tree preservation and the condition of our parks, memorials and monuments.
In previous articles, I have discussed the improvements to the Conservation Center that include the reduction in the fee by $20, the free mulch and free firewood program, and the expanded recycling opportunities. I have detailed our tree planting and preservation efforts. I have also highlighted the beautification projects in our public spaces that have resulted in our town never looking better.
Road improvements is the most common topic I discuss with residents when I go door-to-door or respond to emails. Road repaving is one of the most costly investments the town makes each year, and it is also one of the most carefully considered. Council members work with town professionals to review roads in need of repaving in each ward. During budget time, roads are prioritized and we stretch our budgeted funds to cover as many roads as possible. We supplement our town funded paving projects by applying for NJ Department of Transportation grants, which we have successfully received each of the last few years.
During my four years on council, we have increased our paving efforts significantly; including the roads we are currently paving, we have paved a total of 16 miles of roads. That is an average of four miles per year. Considering there are 100 miles of roads that the town is responsible for maintaining, we are currently averaging the repaving of each road every 25 years. Our plans for the paving of more roads in 2018 has already begun, with our submission of a NJ DOT grant application to assist in paving Grove Street between Central Avenue and Rahway Avenue.
To supplement our paving and prolong the life of our roads, we have invested in equipment for the Public Works Department. We purchased an asphalt machine that maintains the heat of the asphalt, allowing our potholes to be patched with hot patch, which is much more effective than cold patch. We also purchased a crack sealer which fills in cracks in the roads and prevents water from penetrating, freezing and further cracking the road. We also started a pothole patrol reporting tool on our website.
Following the Blizzard of 2016, we conducted a review of our response to the storm and identified areas of improvement. We made additional investments in trucks and plows to aid in our snow plow operations. We passed an ordinance requiring vehicles to be removed from the road when there is three or more inches of snow. We passed an ordinance that prohibits the depositing of snow onto the street. We improved our communication systems in DPW vehicles. These improvements resulted in quicker, more efficient curb-to-curb plowing of snow with improved safety for residents and Public Works employees. The entire report is available to the public at http://www.westfieldnj.gov/vertical/Sites/%7B57704CD8-22F3-44AB-BC43-B0B1CE80A3BB%7D/uploads/Post_Evrent_Review_-_Bizzard_of_2016.pdf.
As a Councilman for the past four years and Chairman of the Public Works Committee for the past two years, I have worked with the Mayor, my council colleagues, and Town professionals to make many improvements in the Public Works Department that have directly impacted the quality of life for residents. I look forward to building upon these improvements with the help of your vote on Nov. 7 for David Oliveira for 3rd Ward Council.