Looking Back At 2016, Looking Ahead To Serving You Better

By Joe Scavuzzo, Director, Department of Public Works

On behalf of the crew of your Public Works Department, I want to begin this article by extending our warmest wishes to our residents, businesses, and their families during this holiday season. It is my experience that family gatherings this time of year lead to a “re-capping” of the past twelve months; remembering those who have passed away, weddings, a birth of a grandchild, perhaps even a summer vacation. As in most businesses, the end of a calendar year is a time where an organization can look back and evaluate its strengths and areas of improvement. 

From snow plowing to grass cutting, there is always room for improvement. As winter is typically the Department of Public Works’ “slow time,” where our schedule is dictated by weather, the superintendent and myself are looking to use this time to evaluate our work processes and procedures and see how they can be improved upon to work better for our town as a whole. If we are blessed with a dry winter, we look to expand our litter pickup efforts in those areas of town prone to littering. Through New Jersey Clean Communities cleanups with volunteer groups and taking advantage of frozen ground, we can get heavy equipment into typically muddy spots to clear swatches of overgrowth along park perimeters, where debris accumulates.

With leaf collection slowing as the New Year approaches with the threat of snow, we begin to transition from leaf vacuums and backpack blowers to plows and rock salt equipment. In the event of a December snowfall, I’d like to touch on the number one complaint we receive during snow removal operations: getting plowed in. We request that you wait to shovel your driveway aprons until after we plow your street, whenever possible. I can relate to any frustration this may cause. On more than one occasion earlier this year, I’ve returned home after having our crews work into the early morning hours to find my own driveway entrance plowed in! Sometimes you just have to laugh.

In search for a solution to this situation, I did find an assistance program that Camden County offers: a disabled citizen and senior citizen hotline where you can be placed on a list for snow removal. The snow removal program will go into effect only after four inches of snow have fallen on the ground in our area. The number for this service is (856) 783-4808, ext. 5060.

I’ve noticed two things in my tenure here:  trees fall and snow falls after working hours. Very infrequently, if ever, will a snowstorm start after our residents leave for work in the morning and end before they return home; it is also unlikely that our plowing operation will occur within that same time frame. Our goal is to plow from curb to curb for the primary use of first responders and their equipment so that they can better handle emergencies during these weather events. Maneuvering a 25-foot-long dump truck with snow plow extending forward is no easy task. Many of our staff has been plowing for over 15 years. The obstacles and special streets like cul-de-sacs and dead-ends, make snow disposal difficult. While this can be tough in some of our neighborhoods, those than can keep personal vehicles off of the road when snowfall is expected helps us clear every bit. It takes roughly 10-14 hours and every hand we have to go through the entire town once.

May this time of year bring you and your family peace, harmony… and no snow!

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