By JACQUELINE DURETT
EDISON — The Jan. 23 snowstorm brought to light some concerns residents have about how snow is handled in the township. They brought their concerns to the Jan. 27 Township Council meeting.
Resident Bruce Diamond said he felt the town did a good job cleaning up the snow, but wanted to know why the snowplows can’t straighten their blades at curb cuts from the typical 45-degree angle to avoid pushing snow back onto residents’ driveways, something he said is especially frustrating when a resident has just cleared his or her driveway.
He said he knows it’s a practice that would be hard to implement in the midst of a storm, but should be possible when it’s a matter of final cleanups. “How do we fix this so residents aren’t continually cleaning their driveways?” he asked.
Engineer Mark Kataryniak responded that having snowplow drivers adjust their blades for each driveway “would be operationally very difficult to do because the plow relies on momentum,” he said. “It’s an unfortunate side effect, so to speak, to the way plow operations go. There’s really not a whole lot they can do other than move it all in one direction.”
However, Diamond disagreed with the feasibility of adjusting the plowing process. He said the first four or five years he lived in the township, avoiding adding extra snow to residents’ driveways is exactly what the drivers did. Without making that adjustment, residents, he said, have no choice but to put the snow back into the street.
“If you don’t want the residents to put the snow in the street, don’t put the snow back in our driveways,” he said. “We’ve got to put it somewhere.”
He said older residents who were shoveling this storm’s particularly heavy snow were especially burdened.
Councilman Robert Diehl said he agreed with Diamond and disagreed somewhat with Kataryniak. Diehl said he understands the first priority is to clear the street, but once the plows move to the maintenance phase of operations, the plows should be able to make the blade adjustment. “It’s just extremely time consuming to do,” he added.
He said he’d like to discuss the issue further with the public works department.
Resident Irene Wall expressed concerns about how fire hydrants are marked so that plow drivers won’t run into them when clearing the streets. She asked why there are markers in northern Edison, but not in the southern part of the township.
Fire Chief Brian Latham said the township is served by two different water companies, which is why some areas are marked and others are not. He said his understanding is that the water companies are hesitant to mark the hydrants because juveniles take the markers and misuse them. He said as a result, firefighters in town have had to take over the marking process.
“They’re out there,” he said of the firefighters, although Wall responded she hasn’t seen them. Latham said there are 3,000 fire hydrants in the township.
Wall said she couldn’t believe that the juveniles would remove the markers. “Then they need to get more homework. They need to get involved in participating in good things.”
Diehl said he has spoken with Office of Emergency Management Director Andy Toth about the issue. He said Toth suggested that residents “adopt” the fire hydrant near their home and keep it clear on a regular basis.
“It’s better to do it and be safe,” he said.