Snow and icy conditions prolonged by the brutal cold have kept New Community’s Department of Environmental Services bustling with activity this winter.
As of the first week of February, Environmental Services had already spread 60 tons of salt on properties around the New Community network, including sites in Jersey City, Orange and the parking lot of the Parthmark Shopping Complex at 131-185 Bergen St. in Newark.
“The staff has been very cooperative,” said Wayne Gravesande, Director of Environmental Services, who has overseen the snow removal efforts. What’s been more challenging, he noted, has been getting residents to move their cars in order for plows to clear the snow.
His department has four vehicles for snow removal—three heavy duty plows and a Bobcat.
Crews pulled overnight shifts after major snow events, including a significant storm on January 27 that didn’t live up to its hype as a historic blizzard, as initially forecasted, but still dumped more than half a foot of snow in Newark, according to the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist at Rutgers University. The ominous forecast of a blizzard, however, prompted Gov. Chris Christie to declare a statewide State of Emergency and Newark Public Schools, among other city departments, closed in an effort to keep drivers off the roads. New Community also closed its offices, for non-essential personnel, that day.
Among the areas of NCC that stayed open was the Extended Care Facility, where staff hunkered down and continued to provide 24-hour skilled nursing care to the residents.
“We have to take care of our residents, that’s our first priority,” Facility Administrator Robert Smolin said.
Smolin worked with the Security Department to arrange for officers in SUVs to pick up any nursing staff stuck at their homes. Prior to the storm, Smolin said his staff checked the levels of food stocked in the kitchen and made sure there was adequate clean laundry, in case the storm was worse than expected.
In addition to plowing and salting, Environmental Services employees have been diligently shoveling walkways, breaking up ice and generally ensuring the safety of NCC staff and residents throughout the winter months.
“Their hard work is very much appreciated,” Gravesande said.