Did union slowdown leave this massive snow mess in Lakewood?
Lakewood Township continued working to clear its streets of the weekend's snow Tuesday while officials are trying to determine if a union slowdown has kept streets covered.
"I'm not 100 percent clear about it," Deputy Mayor Albert Akerman told New Jersey 101.5 Tuesday morning. "It seems there might have been confusion caused by an individual or a few individuals (over whelter) people have to show up or don't have to show up. Basically, did people intentionally not come or were they confused and not come?
"We're trying to find if there was anything malicious done here or not and, if there was then obviously we'll have no choice but to deal with it harshly. Snow on the streets is dangerous. People should know know for the future not to do anything like this."
The Asbury Park Press reported Tuesday many members of Lakewood's unionized public works force failed to show up for work during the snowstorm, and plows were left sitting idle as snow built up. Township Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein told the paper to compensate, the township to hired private contractors, which could cost more than $100,000.
An online petition seeking Department of Public Works Director Alvin Burdge's resignation over plowing problems had collected about 140 signatures by Tuesday morning.
"The storm was accurately forecasted by meteorologists, and as such, should have been taken properly into account by the Department of Public Works," the petitioners, going under the name "Lakewood Community" wrote. "However, as is painfully obvious to all, the township has done a horrific job of getting the roads plowed and drivable."
Akerman told New Jersey 101.5 Burdge is a "personal friend" but they have not spoken since before the storm hit.
"His No. 2 2 was there dealing with the situation." The Asbury Park Press reported Burdge was sick all weekend, possibly with pneumonia.
An investigation will begin soon into what led to the inadequate plowing, Akerman said.
"Our township attorney and town manager will be interviewing people," Akerman said. "This is not going away."
He said businesses complained about lost business and people got hurt when they slipped and fell.
Akerman said budget issues didn't hold trucks back: "We are willing to spend just about what we have to. We have a very healthy budget right now and we have money put aside to tackle the snow whatever we need to. We throw enough money at a storm for it not to be an excuse."
Private contractors and the DPW trucks are still on the job and "it's getting better. The weather is helping but it's not pretty," Akerman said.
Routes 9 and 88 were down to bare pavement as they are maintained by the state DOT.
"Park Avenue is a heavily traveled road that was not done well at all," along with a lot of side streets, according to Akerman. "Streets in the industrial park weren't done well," he said, adding that most streets have been plowed at least one and "people can get out of their homes."
Akerman said Lakewood normally does a "decent job" on snow removal that is comparable to other towns. "Most of the the people call me and they're grateful," Akerman said.