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Aging Fleet, Fewer Workers Blamed For 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 the Sachem community 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. 

john smith February 13, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Stop with the excuses.You hire landscapers that dont plow anything and you also waited until three feet of snow was on the ground.Common sense tells me that a pick-up truck cannot move that much snow, so why didnt they plow as the night went on and move much less of a load? I would also like to thank the Islip town truck that plowed my completely clear road four times yesterday.
don thornton February 13, 2013 at 10:29 PM
when in chage the buck stops with you! Harry TRUMAN KNEW THAT!
Craig R. Wallace February 13, 2013 at 11:02 PM
I agree with John Smith's comment "stop with the excuses". Instead why aren't there admissions being made as to being unprepared and accepting responsibility for the apparent ineptness of our government officials. The failure to effectively plow our streets is inexcusable. If it was known that equipment was outdated then why weren't, haven't, plans been formulated to rectify the situation. Advanced forecast warnings provided ample time to be marshal additional resources and to establish and implement plans to address this situation in a proactive manner? Seems that we pay ever increasing taxes yet what we get are less or sub-par services in return. Next come the pot holes and roadway deterioration which have been addressed by patching them lieu of developing a repaving plan for our residential roads.
Nunzio Vitale February 14, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Suffolk county government is a joke. It is riddled with corruption, nepotism & mismanagement. People must remember to hold these "elected officials" accountable at election time. Tax money is misappropriated & dispersed unevenly to the school districts at the expense of ALL GOVERNMENT agencies with little to NO oversight. All the other areas of government are grossly underfunded , so they will suffer monumental setbacks & dysfunctional results.
Patricia Ehlen February 14, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Supervisor Croci what happened to the contractors that would plow the streets during the snowstorm and after the snowstorm. Our road was not passable until Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. My husband and other neighbors couldn't go to work. Stop with the excuses!!!
Nunzio Vitale February 14, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Why can't they put plows on sanitation trucks like NYC does. Let me guess, that would inflate our taxes even more. Not pick up trucks or a famly SUV with little red wagon plows on them. What a joke.
WILLIAM MCLAUGHLIN February 14, 2013 at 10:59 PM
as a former town employee the town of islip for 35-years retired in 2000 the town fathers have not done anything for DPW for 20-years but laid off workers ,bought a couple small trucks and bull-shited the taxpayers,GET RID OF THEM ALL, THEY ARE ALL A JOKE

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