SANATOGA PA – Lower Pottsgrove terminated working agreements with at least two independent contractors who had been expected, but allegedly failed, to provide adequate snow removal help to the township Public Works Department during winter storm Jonas late last month, the Board of Commissioners reported Monday (Feb. 1, 2016).
Board President Bruce Foltz, acknowledging criticisms that it took too long to clear township streets and roads of more than two feet of snow dumped by the Jan. 22-24 storm, said the contractors had been “fired.”
“One went home sick, didn’t finish the job, and didn’t tell anyone,” Foltz said. “The other plowed just one path, and didn’t have the right equipment.” Neither was identified by name.
He also said the township would enhance its specifications in seeking contractors for next year’s supplemental plowing, to ensure contractors deployed equipment that was “large enough” for anything Mother Nature might throw Lower Pottsgrove’s way.
Commissioners uniformly praised Public Works Supervisor John Fogel and his crew, who they said worked continuously and with little sleep during a more than 30-hour period in the weekend blizzard conditions. “They did a tremendous job” removing snow, Vice President Stephen Klotz said of the four-employee staff. “I don’t think anybody could have done any better.”
Recognition of snow-clearing difficulties, and announcement of the township’s response, were not on the board agenda but arose at the start of its meeting in the municipal building. Former Commissioner Tony Doyle told board members “the township seemed paralyzed” by Jonas, and charged some housing communities had not been cleared more than 24 hours after its departure.
Commissioners weren’t happy either; “we know we had some problems,” Foltz agreed. The amount of snowfall to contend with “was unreal,” he noted, and the problem was compounded because “some of the contractors did a lousy job.” The president said her personally saw areas in which property owners had to “shovel 4 feet from the end of their driveways just to meet the road.”
Foltz and other commissioners grew defensive, however, when Doyle further claimed local residents’ health and safety could have been jeopardized by the troubling state of the highways.
Commissioner and Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Lopez said the township fire support and ambulance contingency plans were in place, and functioned well, when a maternity call was received at one point in the storm. “We got though it successfully. It gets taken care of all the time,” Lopez said. “It’s just that nobody recognizes it.”
Doyle said he thought plowing of state-owned roads was just as bad. “Well, there’s nothing we can do about the state,” Foltz replied.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 1 meeting):
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