Curbside pick-up following Superstorm Sandy is continuing as township administrator James Naples reported Thursday that the seven hired contractors have only completed about 20 percent of the township.
"The amount of brush and damage is something we've never seen before," he said. "There are very large trees down all over throughout the township."
The township council had previously made an emergency appropriation of $640,000 to hire seven contractors to travel around the township and pick up brush left out by residents. They are going street by street, and will cover each street in town once, as they have been doing since the program began Nov. 26.
The hired contractors are Absolute Tree Experts, LLC; CRI Total Site Service; FTS, Inc.; Hayden Construction Group Corp; High Tech Landscape, Inc.; K&J Tree Service; and RJS Associates Landscaping, Inc.
"We also opened up six park sites and a yard waste site for any resident who wished to drop off the brush," Naples said.
Crews have been traveling around, Naples said, and if the crew could not handle the size of the logs left, a letter was left for the residents, and Department of Public Works officials picked it up instead.
"This has helped to inform residents and keep complaints to a minimum," he said.
In the first two weeks of the program, Naples said, the contractors removed 4,373 cubic yards of brush from curbsides.
"If you stack the brush, all chipped, in a 10-foot-high pile, it would stretch about 2,000 feet," he said.
The contractors, Naples said, have worked about 75 crew days, some working six days a week.
As for the parks, they are all still open to collect brush, and, so far, 10,122 cubic yards have been removed.
"That is a little less than a mile," Naples said. "These sites fill up fast, and it is really amazing and a great help for us that residents are taking materials to these sites."
"We have had three public works crews with three chippers we own working exclusively in the park and removing items from there," he added. "This has been a herculean effort for the DPW."
As for the yard waste site in town, Naples said, contractor Reliable Choice has removed 7,650 cubic yards, and had to close down for three days because it was overburdened. It has been reopened again.
Naples said the township is also reviewing the progress each week.
"We have a dedicated meeting where we review not only the level of brush removed and the streets they've been on, but any potential complaints and to monitor the brush removal program to stay in budget and keep it moving," he said.
But, Naples said, there is still some difficulty guessing when the crews will hit individual streets, and they have opted not to provide those guesses.
"It varies by neighborhood and street," he said. "Some places it looks like nothing happened, then you go somewhere else and it could take days to get through the street."
Naples said the township is just telling residents to get their materials out to the street, and they will get there as soon as they can.
"We have been reticent about giving out dates or estimates," he said. "But if we went past your street and you didn't put brush out, you have to bring it to one of the sites."
"And we have no idea of an end date," he added. "It's going to be a budgetary factor and about keeping the streets open."
Naples said they have considered adding contractors to get the work done faster, but it all comes down to money.
"Based on the meetings, we feel we're comfortable with the crews we have hired," he said. "We want to keep it manageable for us, and we have the option to add if we have time or have more money."
"Right now time is not a factor, as long as the brush stays off the road," he added.
And for those residents who might want some of the brush or chippings, Naples said they can head to one of the park sites and pick it up, free of charge.
For those who have not had their streets checked out, and still want brush taken, these are the regulations for putting the materials out:
- All brush should be cut into 5-foot pieces.
- Brush should be placed behind the curb line or edge of pavement.
- Brush should not be placed in the roadway.
- Logs and leaf bags should be in separate piles from branches.
- Loose leaves will not be picked up, but should be placed in paper bags to be picked up separately.
- Each street will only be checked once.
- The individual homeowner is responsible for taking care of any lawn restoration.
- Leaf bags and logs will be picked up on a different schedule by the township Department of Public Works.