Tuesday, February 4, 2014, MAYWOOD || Michael Romain
Not long ago, back-to-back-to-back snowstorms and bone-chilling, record-breaking deep freezes would’ve been the perfect catalysts for constant complaints about the performance of the Village’s public works department.
This winter, however, that customary discontent has turned into widespread praise for the department’s service, despite the immensely challenging conditions–temperatures so cold that salt wouldn’t melt, making that remedy useless; constant equipment malfunctions and breakdowns; and greatly diminished salt supplies.
Earlier in the year, in response to the equipment failures, former Village Manager William Barlow went to the Board to request the emergency purchase of two new giant plow trucks–at the time, according to an agenda item report, the department was only utilizing three trucks, when it should have been utilizing 5-6.
In the wake of Mr. Barlow’s request, the Village Board unanimously approved the emergency purchase, setting the stage for Public Works Director John West to gracefully prove a point he’d been making all along at tonight’s regular Board meeting.
“For the first year I’ve been here,” said resident Dorothy Lane Thomas, “I haven’t had to complain about the snow removal. They’re doing an excellent job.”
For resident William Kyle, the greatly improved winter service was a sign that Maywood, the Village (according to its motto) that’s always on the move, is moving in the right direction.
“I’ve noticed things are getting better,” Mr. Kyle said. “They’ve been getting the snow out of the street for people to get by….It’s really a great thing.”
But from Mr. West’s perspective, the improved service is not so much an enhancement of the effort his department has given in the past; rather, it’s an indicator of a point he’s been stressing for a while.
“You all should thank the [the Mayor and Board of Trustees],” said Mr. West, addressing the regular citizens. “They gave us the equipment and as we’ve said all along, ‘If you give us what we need, we’ll give you everything you’re asking for.'”
Trustee Audrey Jaycox reinforced Mr. West’s point.
“I want to commend my colleagues for approving the money for purchasing those vehicles,” she said “I think that that was money well-spent and our status was elevated during this particular time.”
Even with the progress, however, the Village isn’t exactly in the clear. There’s more polar-like temperatures and more snow still to come, which may present one particularly acute challenge that Maywood isn’t alone in facing. With the Chicago area having experienced more than 50 inches of snow this winter already, according to a recent report by CBS Chicago, municipalities throughout the county have experienced salt shortages.
According to the report, Maywood is down to about 500 tons of salt “for more than six remaining weeks of winter.” Mr. West was quoted as saying that his department is currently rationing the remaining salt that it has. But after the snow storms forecast for tonight and tomorrow, there may not be much of that left.
The Village has reportedly used more than 2,000 tons of salt this winter, compared with less than 800 last year. The diminished supply has prompted Mr. West to order more salt, but apparently Maywood’s going to have to get in line. According to CBS, “supply trucks have been delayed in delivering salt, because of overwhelming demand throughout the Midwest.” VFP