As Snow Melts in Lakewood, Frustration Remains

A van getting a boost from a bulldozer during the challenging snow conditions in Lakewood.
A van getting a boost from a bulldozer during the challenging snow conditions in Lakewood.

Even as snow steadily receded throughout the week, nuisances and aggravation over what was labeled a botched clean-up effort lingered. As Hamodia reported Monday, while snow tapered off Motzoei Shabbos, Sunday morning found many major roads only partially cleared and nearly all side streets untouched by plows.

“It seems as if there was no one here to run things,” said one Lakewood mother. “That on Tuesday, three days after the snow, the girls still could not have busing is ridiculous.”

On Monday, many schools were not able to open at all, as streets and driveways had not been cleared. Despite school openings on Tuesday, without busing and with many streets still not fully cleared, the mother said that many parents were fearful about driving themselves.

“The street near me was cleared right away, but the plow dumped three feet of packed snow on my driveway,” said a man who lives on Pine Street, which, like most main arteries, was cleared relatively early. “I spent the whole Sunday shoveling and once I got out, I saw what a disaster the rest of the town was. People are very frustrated and I can’t blame them.”

As late as Wednesday, many sidewalks remained unshoveled, forcing pedestrians to walk in the street with the cars. Drivers had their share of challenges as well, as many roads remained narrowed and slushy, causing constant stand-stills and traffic backups.

Town officials blamed the slow response on the Department of Public Works, whose director, Alvin Burdge, resigned under heavy pressure as of Wednesday.

“I think what bothered people the most was that the community had done everything that Public Works asked them to do,” said Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, adding that most citizens had removed cars and other impediments from the streets. “Then it snowed. It was Shabbos, so there were very few cars on the road, and they [the plows] did not show up.”

Mr. Lichtenstein said that once the blizzard had passed without plows coming through most areas, the town’s equipment was insufficient to handle the heavy snowfall.

“We were playing catch-up,” he said. “Since then we brought in a lot of private contractors and heavy equipment and have been hitting it over and over again, day and night.”

As regards the initial failure, the committeeman said it was due to a combination of poor planning and many no-shows over Shabbos and Sunday — both on the part of Public Works.

“We are looking into it, and people will be disciplined,” he said.

Mr. Lichtenstein said that while a solid plan for future heavy snowfalls has not yet been developed, Public Work’s new chief, Tony Arrenchi, is eager to bring the department “to the next level.”

“At the end of the day it’s a small problem,” said one Lakewood resident, who asked not to be named. “Baruch Hashem, I haven’t heard of any medical emergencies or anybody getting seriously hurt, but it definitely was not handled properly. The Public Works is supposed to have some kind of plan in place for these things. But at this point, I think we should all just get over it and move on.”

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