Council agrees to upgrade fire and DPW fleets

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:51

    New, smaller senior van will also be purchased Sparta — Nothing lasts forever and each year another vehicle from one of Sparta’s municipal services fleets lives past its recommended service life and requires major repairs. Sometimes these repairs are too costly for an aging vehicle and the only alternative is to purchase a new vehicle, or perhaps a used one, if one fitting the township’s specific needs can be found. This is the situation that Town Manager David Troast has presented to the Township Council over the last two meetings. Troast has made a case for purchasing a new fire truck, four new snow removal trucks for the Department of Public Works, and a new senior van, and these were approved by the council last week. Bond ordinances for these purchases will be presented at next week’s council meeting. New fire truck Sparta Fire Department Chief Keith Arnold and Deputy Chief Jim Connell said that although the township is in need of a new pumper truck as well as a new ladder truck, one truck which is a combination ladder/pumper truck would serve the community. He said a new truck with a 100 foot ladder to accommodate the town’s taller structures and a 500 gallon pumping capacity could cost between $975,000 and $1.4 million, depending on the specific equipment included. One concern was the ability of such a large truck to navigate some of Sparta’s smaller, winding roads, such as those in the Lake Mohawk area, but Arnold said the other pumpers could be used in those cases. The council approved the new ladder/pumper truck. Township Chief Financial Officer, Mike Guarino said this week that $975,000 will be bonded for the new truck. DPW trucks Director of Public Works, James Zepp said at the previous meeting that the department needed to replace at least two full-sized dump trucks used for snow removal. He said the fleet of 13 large trucks and four smaller Mason dump trucks is aging and 70 per cent are overdue for replacement. Last week he said the department would consider a new option to refurbish the fleet of trucks by requesting only one large truck and three Mason dump trucks. He said the large truck would be used to remove snow on the major routes, while the bigger fleet of Mason dumps could remove snow on smaller streets. Zepp said if they purchase another large truck next year, along with another three small ones, the township would be well on the way to a reliable and sustainable fleet of trucks. The council approved the purchase for this year of one large dump truck at $135,000 and three Mason dump trucks at a cost of $135,000 for all three. A total of $270,000 will be needed for these trucks. New senior van At the previous meeting, the council voted to reject the request for a new 15 passenger senior van at a cost of $57,000, even though the transmission needed repairs and the air conditioning was deficient. Last week, Troast presented a new option for a smaller, 12 passenger van at a cost of $49,000. He said the repairs needed to bring the current van back to full function and reliability would be a costly, temporary fix and the need to replace the van soon would still exist. Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith said many seniors in town depend on the van as their only transportation to doctors’ appointments, grocery shopping, and other errands. Troast suggested the council reject the request by the DPW for a large back-up generator, at a cost of around $45,000, and use those funds for the new 12 passenger senior van. The council agreed and the expenditure was approved. Zepp also agreed the need for the seniors was greater and did not object to the council’s decision. Mayor Jerry Murphy said this week, “The council reached a consensus that a new senior van was more necessary at the present time than the new generator. We have to take care of our citizens first and provide the necessary services. It’s a matter of needs vs. wants.” New Quick Check opens Murphy also said this week he was happy to be part of the ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday for the opening of the new Quick Check convenience store and gas station on the corner of Newton-Sparta Rd. and Perona Rd. He said the store is an excellent addition to the community and added he was especially fond of their chicken pot pie soup.