Council members praise DPW handling of snowstorm

Photo by Chris Sykes
Motorists on Sussex Avenue in East Orange contend with a surprise November snowstorm on Thursday, Nov. 15, catching meteorologists and DPW crews off guard across parts of northern New Jersey. Members of East Orange City Council complimented Department of Public Works Director Chris Coke on Monday, Nov. 19, at the committee meeting for his handling of this first big snowfall of the holiday season.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — Members of East Orange City Council complimented Department of Public Works Director Chris Coke at the committee meeting on Monday, Nov. 19, for his handling of the first big snowfall of the holiday season that blanketed the city Thursday, Nov. 15.

“I just want to commend the Public Works Department,” said 5th Ward Councilman Mustafa Brent on Monday, Nov. 19. “In the majority of the neighboring cities, they were locked into a traffic jam for upwards of two to four hours. Many people made their way home by way of going through East Orange. And although it was a storm that was unlike any other storm in our city of East Orange in recent years, we still were able to have a modicum of mobility within our city and I just want to comment the Public Works Department for that.”

Councilwoman Alicia Holman added her own commendation of the DPW and Coke to the official record.

“I just want to piggyback off of Councilman Brent. I saw a few faces in the audience, when he was speaking, of the cleaning of the streets to the point of we were able to move,” said Holman on Monday, Nov. 19. “Some folks may say we still had snow out there, but I want everybody to understand that a lot of us did get it wrong. But even though they did get it wrong, East Orange was still out there. Our streets may not have been blacktop when it was coming down, but by that morning or early wee hours of the morning, East Orange had blacktop throughout the city.”

Holman and Brent agreed the East Orange DPW did a comparably better job at handling the nor’easter that dumped between 6 and 7 inches of snow on Northern New Jersey and the Tri-State Area than neighboring cities, including Newark, Irvington and Orange.

“I got a few phone calls that stated that, ‘Why are our streets not clean,’” Holman said. “But Councilman Brent is right. We were able to move through our streets in the city of East Orange and, by the wee hours of the morning, we had blacktop. So I still commend the Public Works Department because, in my 13 years on the council, this is the second year we had blacktop. So I’m happy with that.”

Coke thanked the council members for the praise at the meeting.

Holman then inquired about the status of the city’s new policy of having residents bag their own leaves and put them on the curbs for pickup and disposal by the DPW.

“Have we sent out advertisements to our residents to let them know we can now bag our leaves, as opposed to putting them in the streets?” asked Holman. “Has there been any type of advertisements done on that?”

Coke said the DPW has not been actively advertising the city’s new leaf collection policy.

“We’ve only discussed that at community meetings, councilwoman, because it’s not technically the law yet, so we’ve been advising people that we have bags available and, as Councilman Casim Gomez has said, we have the bags now,” Coke said. “Right now, it’s word of mouth. We’re advising people to do that, until we pass the law.”

“So when will we see that resolution coming?” Holman asked. “When is it coming? So it’s the first of January, because we won’t be able to get it done now, will we?”

Coke said advertising for the new leaf collection policy would begin once the council passes the new law.

“It’s coming,” Coke assured her. “We’ll have to wait to implement the 2019 law.”

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