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Winter Wreaks Havoc On DPW Budget

Storms push costs at least $100,000 over projections

Back-to-back storms have pushed the Department of Public Works (DPW) budget at least $100,000 over department projections as snow removal crews and supplies were in high demand this month.

“The salt and sand budget is out of whack. Overtime is off the wall and we’re only halfway through,” DPW director Robert Mangan said at a village board meeting that was held on Thursday, Feb. 6. “It’s one of those peak years.”

The department was already running $30,000 over in overtime costs prior to the Feb. 3 and 5 storms, he added. Trustees approved $80,000 in fund transfers for overtime and snow removal materials and supplies and will take a closer look at proposed department spending plans this week as budget work sessions kick off Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the village hall boardroom.

Garden City got hit with two significant storms in one week, putting the department’s snow plowing and ice control plan into action. Mangan said crews make at least two passes down each village street during all major storms, oftentimes working 14 to 16 hours before relief crews take over operations.

Two trucks are assigned to each of six sections of the village—the Mott section, Southeast, Central, Estates South, Estates North and the West section. The village’s five railroad station parking fields are tackled first, payloaders take care of the dead ends and once streets are cleared the focus shifts to the parking fields.

Front line crews aren’t the only ones working around the clock. Mangan said mechanics have been busy making repairs to overused plows. The department has spent $1,100 in parts in January and early February alone.

“It’s a very expensive operation,” he said.

To make matters worse, there’s a salt shortage on Long Island. In declaring a state of emergency during the Feb. 5 storm, Gov. Andrew Cuomo enabled local municipalities to dip into state stockpiles.

Cuomo directed the Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority to move 3,500 tons of road salt to localities in need. The village received 10 tons of salt and has 700 tons on order with Atlantic Salt Inc., a supplier out of Staten Island.

Trustee Dennis Donnelly praised the department’s efforts and suggested police aides put “No Parking After 3 p.m.” signs up along Seventh Street to enable crews to clear snow piles at the curb line for pedestrians. “It would give you an opportunity in the afternoon to sweep the street and push it all off the curbs,” he said to Mangan.

Resident Althea Robinson said navigating Seventh Street was “almost impossible” after the storms and suggested crews make curb cuts every few feet.

Icy conditions landed one sanitation worker in the hospital with neck and back injuries after he slipped on a sloped driveway off Newmarket Road on Thursday, Jan. 30.

“It is dangerous for these guys out there when it is these icy conditions,” Mangan said.

In light of the incident, Trustee John DeMaro reminded residents to clear paths for sanitation crews grabbing garbage cans from residential yards. “It is imperative for people to shovel,” he said. “If they don’t they’re putting our workers at risk.”

Though the snow has stopped falling and the streets and parking fields are open, village administrator Robert Schoelle said the “arduous task of reclaiming parking spaces lost to plowed snow in the parking fields” is just beginning.

“The process goes on for a very long time,” he said.