IRVINGTON, NJ — On Monday, Feb. 1, Mayor Tony Vauss and Department of Public Works Director Jamel Holley unveiled four new Bobcat snow plows the township purchased to help with the snowplowing and removal during future snowstorms.
Business Administrator Musa Malik said the new plows are officially CASE sr240 skid steer loaders, but he and everyone else at the event referred to them as “Bobcats.”
“Today is another commitment for the mayor and this administration,” Holley said at the press conference in Civic Square, where the new plows were rolled out onto the township streets Monday, Feb. 1. “He gave us a B-minus for how we handled the last storm and we want to be an A-plus. Today, with these machines, they’re going to get right out on the road.”
Former Municipal Council President John Sowell now works in the Vauss administration as an aide to the mayor. He is also the point man on many of the mayor’s initiatives, such as the comprehensive strategy for coordinating snow removal during the next blizzard.
Sowell confirmed this to the small crowd gathered for the press conference, while crediting Vauss for providing invaluable leadership during the recent blizzard, which officials said dumped 31 inches of snow on Irvington. Vauss personally helped coordinate the plowing, removal and cleanup effort in town, said Sowell.
“We have roughly 64 miles of road in Irvington to plow,” Sowell said Monday, Feb. 1. “Now, with these new plows, we’ll have people assigned to specific streets and parts of town. The mayor asked us to come up with a plan to make sure no one is forgotten.”
Vauss said his administration’s goal is to get better at everything they do, including providing the best, most efficient services possible to the town’s taxpayers.
“We had the equipment, but most of our big, heavy-duty front loaders can’t go down some of our smaller streets, so it becomes a problem when you’ve got parking on both sides of the street and you’re trying to plow down the middle and you can’t fit,” Vauss said Monday, Feb. 1. “We actually have one of these Bobcats. It’s an older model that was used on one of our smaller streets, Liberty Street, and it cleared the entire street out. So it was my thinking that if we got one of these at least in each ward we could have the heavy equipment go down the streets that it can go down and then we have the Bobcats clear out some of our smaller streets.”
The goal, Vauss said, is to get a better response time when it comes to plowing the township’s streets and removing snow. But he said the Bobcat’s functionality is not limited to cleaning up after snowfalls.
“This is going to give us a better response time not only in removing snow but there’s other attachments that we can add to clean up properties, vacant properties, and properties with a large amount of debris where we’ll be able to clean it up a lot faster,” Vauss said. “Some people think that the snow is supposed to be removed as soon as it stops. It doesn’t work that way.
Our plan was to have the streets cleared so that people can drive and get in and out within 48 hours and we accomplished that goal. Can we always improve? Yes. And this is why this equipment is so important. We’re looking to improve on that to have these machines assigned to some of our smaller streets so automatically when it snows or things of that nature it can go right to that street and begin its work.”
Vauss said each of the new Bobcats will be assigned to a specific ward in town, which will allow the DPW to handle its business more quickly.
“It’s not a matter of how can we afford this; it’s we need to afford this,” Vauss said. “We want to improve services for our residents. You pay a lot of money in overtime and things of that nature during snowstorms, during state of emergencies. And what this does is make us better-equipped to deal with these types of emergencies.”
Vauss said, “It’s about being proactive.” He said his administration wants to “make sure that we’re able to take care of our residents, service our residents and get the best bang for our buck.”
Samad Beasley, a DPW supervisor at the press conference with fellow employees, said Vauss is on the right track, and that it’s good to know the township’s leadership is behind them all the way.
“Within the last year, out of my 10 years working for the township of Irvington, this is the first time where we see the residents pulling over and thanking us for the work that we’re doing,” Beasley said Monday, Feb. 1. “It feels good. It shows appreciation. And there ain’t nothing like appreciation.”
From a practical standpoint, Beasley said the new Bobcat plows will go a long way toward making the DPW’s job of cleaning Irvington up after snowstorms faster and more efficient. He said he and the rest of the Public Works employees take Vauss’ vow to make the township cleaner and safer very seriously.
Of course, Beasley said, the DPW can only do its part by cleaning Irvington up.
“During the snowstorm, we had a hard time getting to the smaller spots. The first two days were terrible for everybody but, by Wednesday, we had the town completely clean,” Beasley said. “The dump trucks were good for just the street plowing. But getting Town Hall, the police station, the hydrants … they know that they needed more manpower and the little machine is more manpower. If it snows again, we’ll be ready. More than ready.”