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Aging Fleet, Fewer Workers Slow Islip's Storm Response

Supervisor said these factors combined with heavy snowfall presented challenges to cleanup efforts.

Fewer employees, an aging fleet of trucks and equipment and record snowfall proved to be the perfect storm for Islip Town officials as they worked to clear streets in parts of Hauppauge during this past weekend's blizzard.

Supervisor Tom Croci said that while most Town roads were passable 36 hours to 48 hours after the storm, some areas such as neighborhoods north of Sunrise Highway and the hilly sections of Ronkonkoma could not be reached until Monday night.

"A lot of the snow required heavy equipment as (some) plows sent out during the storm were too light to deal with the weight of the wet snow," Croci said. "We don't see snowfall like this very often." 

The more than 125 town crews and 200 hired contractors that took to Town roads Friday evening into Saturday morning had difficulties pushing the snow, with several breaking down under the weight snow falling at five inches to six inches per hour. 

Croci said the Town's "older and aging" equipment was not adequate to tackle the record snowfall. The average piece of equipment is 17 years old, he said.

"The former administration never made the investment in fleet replenishment that you need," he said. 

New York State Department of Transportation and the MTA eventually sent reinforcements to Islip, as 10-wheel trucks with plows and bucket loaders arrived on Sunday.

In addition, Croci said fewer Town employees after years of budget cuts and layoffs also posed a logistical problem to quick snow removal after the blizzard. Islip's Department of Public Works has 114 employees, which includes administrative staffing.

"The former administration reduced the Department of Public Works by 100 employees. During a hurricane and blizzard, you wish you had every single one of them back," Croci said.

The supervisor is urging residents to move their cars off the street before the snowfall forecast for Wednesday night, especially if they want curb-to-curb clearance. Croci said there is a Town code that prohibits residents from parking cars on the street from Dec. 15 - March. 

He suggested residents without sufficient driveway or off-road space reach out to neighbors or consider parking vehicles in a nearby shopping center to help the Town's efforts to clear local roadways. 

Kelly February 12, 2013 at 10:42 PM
we live in NY where it is expected to snow. I would think that with the taxes we pay, we should have at least SOME decent equipment. They can make all the excuses they want -how they handled this situation is no better than how LIPA handled Sandy. Perhaps funds for town paid vehicles that all our councilmen drive around in should be put to the benefit of the people who pay the taxes!!
SoMo February 13, 2013 at 03:07 AM
They couldn't have done a worse job clearing the train station lot if they tried. What kind of idiot piles the snow in the handicapped spots and blocks the handicapped ramp? And did nobody think the clear the walkways at the station?
Ed February 13, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Add poor use of manpower and equipment to the list of problems. I had to drive on Carlton avenue in Islip on Sunday afternoon. The road was horrendous with packed snow. Four plows came north , one following the others. They did nothing at all to the layer of packed snow. Why couldn't these four plows have been sent to streets that still hadn't benn plowed instead of wasting their time?
Kevin February 13, 2013 at 02:22 PM
We keep paying more in taxes, and getting less. The budgets never shrink and yet there are fewer workers and older equipment. Hmm, where do all those tax dollars go to? Our politicians have let us down, to their own benefit of course. This is not a democrat or republican thing, they are both as guilty as the other. And neither wants to make the tough choices required. Unless they start doing the right thing (proper spending and cuts where the fat/corruption is), Long Island is doomed.
Rich G February 13, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Everyone on my street (Shadybrook Lane in WI) thinks that the town plowing crews did a phenomenal job under incredibly tough circumstances. These people in the DPW do not get enough credit. Thank you for a job well done!

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