After a weekend when temperatures reached the mid-60s, snow is probably the last thing on the minds of Brick residents who are "thinking spring." But a long winter ahead brings with it the possibility of chilly temperatures and winter storms – and officials say the township is better prepared than ever this year.
"It was obvious to us that we had to secure more equipment," after the Dec. 26, 2010 blizzard, said township Business Administrator Scott Pezarras.
During that storm, some residents had to wait days to have their streets plowed. That caused a political uproar that resulted in the formation of a committee headed by former Councilman Michael Thulen to determine how the township could better respond to storms in the future. But while a portion of the committee's work focused on communication and organization strategies, at the end of the day – or, rather, when the first snow flake falls – officials largely agreed that equipment is key.
To that end, the township reworked its contract with plow contractors to up the minimum number trucks that should be on the road during a storm. During the blizzard, contractors operated the minimum number of equipment pieces they were obligated to keep in town at all times, but when extra equipment beyond that minimum was sent out of Brick, the plowing operations were delayed. This season, a minimum of 77 pieces of plowing equipment will be on the road during storms, including 26 pieces of township-owned equipment.
When private contractors are called in this year, Pezarras said, they'll work in 12 hour shifts concurrent with the shifts of Brick employees.
Pezarras said the township normally budgets between $750,000 and $850,000 per year for snow removal. Last year's blizzard busted the budget wide open; the storm dropped 34 inches of snow on Brick and cost the township $1,019,000. The amount budgeted for the season usually covers four or five storms that produce 4 to 8 inches of snow, Pezarras said.
Given the increased number of plows on the road this season, Pezarras said he estimates the cleanup effort for an average storm – one of those 4 to 8 inch affairs – would take about 12 hours to complete.