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DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
Division of Streets -- maintenance and Improvement of the highways of the Township; cutting of weeds along streets or highways, snow removal, street signs, street sweeping.
Division of Sewer -- Maintenance, operation and improvement of storm water and sanitary sewer systems of the Township, including flushing and cleaning of both storm and sanitary sewers, removal of stoppages, repairing broken sewers building new short stretches, operation of four disposal plants and three pumping stations.
Division of Parks, Building and Grounds -- Care of Municipal Building, municipal grounds playground and West Englewood Park.
Division of Refuse Disposal -- Licensing and supervision of garbage and refuse collectors and dumps.
A miscellaneous collection of equipment, including snow plows, old tractor, old steam roller, motor scythes, sewer cleaning apparatus, hose, asphalt application machine, etc.
Its Cost (Including Reserves)
The Public Works Department of any municipality corresponds to the maintenance department or the department of plants and structures in a private corporation. In addition to the duties outlined above, it is the "jack of all trades" among the Township's departments, and the various problems which arise from time to time which seem to have no de-finite relation to any particular department, are given to this department to solve. The Department responds to emergency calls day and night.
Division of Streets
There are, in the Township of Teaneck, a total of 99.66 miles of streets and roads, 10 miles of which are County roads. The remainder are divided as follows-concrete streets, 22.28 miles, "black top" streets, 23.38 miles, unimproved streets, 44 miles. Under the general designation, "black top," are- placed all streets which have an asphalt or tar surface whether they be sheet asphalt on a concrete base or whether they be the original macadam streets which have at various times had applications of oil.
The beginning of 1931 found paving operations still in progress, but near completion. These were the concrete paving of Beverly Road, Merrison Street and Martense Avenue. Since then the construction of new streets by assessment has been entirely suspended, both as a matter of prudence and policy, and at first also because of the debt limit. More than two miles of concrete and bituminous streets have been laid since 1931 by State Aid and by private developers.
The Public Works Department is, and always has been, confined almost entirely to maintenance, though when the time arrives that the Township of Teaneck proceeds once more with its paving program, a study should be made of the possibility of this department actually laying new streets instead of having them awarded by contract. That this can be done economically and satisfactorily is possible.
Maintenance of Improved Streets
The 22.28 miles of concrete streets are comparatively new and are in general standing up very well. Up to the present they have required but very little maintenance except for the occasional filling ,of expansion joints. These concrete streets were practically all built from 1927 to 1930 at a total cost of approximately $1,900,000, somewhat over $90,000 per lineal mile, or reducing it further, approximately $5.20 per square yard, including legal, engineering and assessment charges.
The greatest percentage of the maintenance work has been done on the black top streets. On this type of work the repairs have varied all the way from the filling of cracks to the construction of additional short stretches providing connecting links between existing pavements, such as, Grayson Place from Palisade Avenue to Windsor Road, Warwick Avenue from Buckingham Road to Maitland Avenue, and Mar. tense Avenue from Lincoln Place east approximately 400 feet. The bulk of the work, however, has consisted of individual patching, ranging from a few square feet to perhaps fifty square yards in area.
This type of work was formerly done by using the cold patch process, that is, by pre-mixing a certain quantity of stone and screenings with an asphalt or tar preparation, which was liquid at ordinary temperatures and solidified slowly. This method of street repairs has its distinct advantages, but for the particular condition existing in Teaneck it seemed costly, aside from the fact that the patches made showed either a tendency to disintegrate after a year's service or had a creeping action, so as to make the street extremely rough. In fact much of the roughness existing on some of the semi-improved streets of this Township can be traced to these causes.
During 1930 the process of hot patching was used entirely; that is, a heating kettle was procured and the mixture made directly on the street. This resulted not only in better patches, but also in a saving of cost, since the asphaltic materials themselves were considerably cheaper and had to be handled only once. In this manner some 2,300 square yards were patched at an average cost of 47 1/2 cents per square yard. These patches were distributed among 28 streets.
In 1932 a still further change in method was instituted, and we are now using and will probably continue to use an emulsified asphalt which, like the cold patch material, is liquid at ordinary temperatures, but has the advantage over the cold patch material in that it is cheaper in price, is not sticky, and sets up much quicker. To apply this material a small air pressure distributor was bought. The patching has been brought down to about 30 cents a square yard.
The second class of maintenance work done on the black top streets has been surface treatment. Streets treated in this manner are Queen Anne Road from Fort Lee Road to Hillside Avenue, Westervelt Place from Teaneck Road to its end, Edgewood Road, Elm Avenue, Linden Avenue, a portion of Warwick Avenue, westerly end of Rutland Avenue and Glenwood Avenue. The approximate cost is 7 cents per square yard, including labor and materials. This resurfacing proved very satisfactory and an improvement over the tar or asphalt re-surfacing in that traffic could be turned over the streets immediately without any danger of picking up the asphalt, ruining cars or having it tracked into houses. Some streets were also surface treated with a premixed sheet asphalt. This material was placed on some of the higher class bituminous streets, but at a cost of 70 cents per square yard.
Maintenance of Unimproved Streets
At the beginning of 1931, the Township of Teaneck among its 44 miles of unimproved streets had about 5 miles which were subject to considerable traffic, but being without any topping at all were practically impassable during wet weather. On 17,000 lineal feet of such streets a base of sand stone or shale rock was placed. This material happened to be available at a very moderate price as a result of excavations on the State Highway. The unimproved streets on which it was placed are in general streets such as Sussex Road, which are connecting links between various parts of the Town; newly built up sections which it was impossible to improve permanently, such as the section in the vicinity of Belle Avenue and Sagamore Avenue, or existing streets in outlying sections along which there had been built in past years a number of scattered houses, such as Lincoln Terrace or Stuyvesant Road. Other unimproved streets have been given several toppings of cinders.
There were so treated in part or entirely, 22 streets. Cinders have been bought from contractors, in addition to those obtained from the New York Central Railroad, and handled by the unemployed and hauled by the Township trucks.
During the past two seasons there have also been approximately 600 feet of corrugated iron pipe bought and installed in unimproved streets to provide surface drainage, of which there had been practically none.
The Department prides itself in keeping the streets free of holes. Whenever such holes develop they are promptly given attention. Yet there still are a good many of the older streets which are extremely rough. The treatment for these streets is scarifying, re-rolling and adding a new top, such as was done on Beaumont Avenue in 1932 for a total distance of some 900 feet at a cost of 41 cents a square yard.
Snow and Weed Removal
Amounts expended under this item are subject to great fluctuation, largely dependent upon the amount of snow each year.
The Township snow plowing equipment has been improved so that at present it consists of four plows attached to Township trucks. After each snow fall about sixty miles of streets are plowed.
This has necessitated long hours and hard work on the part of the Department's drivers, twenty hour continuous stretches being common. The morale of the Department is well shown by the determination of the men to finish up before they quit. Their only regret is that they cannot be everywhere first. In addition an average of twenty hand shovellers are employed cleaning around the railroad stations, side walks and vacant lots. The cost of work done in front of private property will appear upon the owner's tax bill.
As to the cutting of weeds, an innovation was made in 1932 by the purchase of motor mowers which permitted all parts of the Township to be given attention several times during the season, with a resulting minimum of complaints. Incidentally it might be explained to the taxpayers that the Township's work in removing weeds is confined to the area between the curb and the sidewalk, and that the cutting of weeds on lots is the owner's responsibility, the Township only entering into the picture in such particular cases where a fire or health menace exists. During the height of the season two men are constantly employed in this work.
Until the spring of 1931 Teaneck's business streets and some residential streets were swept by hand. At that time a motor sweeper was purchased which permitted every street in the Township to be swept at least once a week, with more frequent sweepings in business streets. It seems to be generally conceded that the Township streets are kept clean. Against an approximate cost of hand cleaning of $4,000 per year, the present cost is about $2,700 per year, including all labor and supplies, but excluding the depreciation costs of the machine, which would amount to about $800 per year. In general one man operates the machine, except at certain seasons, during the falling of leaves for instance, when he is given an extra laborer or two.
Sewers are divided into two general classes, sanitary sewers, or those which remove house wastes, and storm sewers, or those which take care of the surface drainage.
The Township of Teaneck is particularly well provided with sanitary sewers, and in the future probably only incidental extensions will be necessary, as the few remaining plots are broken up into building lots. These sanitary sewers eventually discharge into one of four disposal plants which the Township operates, two of them along the Hackensack River and two of them along the Overpeck Creek or its branches.
These disposal plants are what is known as primary treatment plants, and as far as pathogenic or bacteriological organisms are concerned, the sewage as it leaves the plant is practically no purer than when it enters. The primary functions of the plants are to remove the putrescible solids in suspension by passing the sewage at a very slow rate through tanks known as Imhoff Tanks. The solids fall to the bottom of the upper tank and pass through slots into a chamber beneath. The action of these bacteria is to change the putrescibe part of the solids into liquids or gases, so that finally only the inorganic part is left. This is then called sludge and is the material which is at intervals pumped from the chambers and spread under the glass housed drying beds adjacent to the plants. After having dried on these beds, it is from time to time removed by hand labor and placed on the dumps. The material has some fertilizing value and moderate quantities have been given to various landscape gardeners. Some has been used by the Township itself.
While this process of sewage treatment and the degree of refinement secured averages up well with other plants contributing to the Hackensack River, it cannot go on indefinitely, and some time in the future, the exact time depending very largely upon economic conditions, it will become necessary for the Township of Teaneck to make a considerable extra expenditure for the treatment of its sewage, either by adding secondary purifying plants to the resent works or by paving its share in rentals for the construction of the proposed Hackensack Valley intercepting sewer. A report of the Hackensack Valley Sewer recently submitted to Council concluded with the following recommendations:
1. Disadvantages--An immediate additional yearly charge of approximately $13.00 per house. This charge might be lessened to the individual home owner if it were determined that part of the cost should be charged against vacant land. eventually it would be entirely wiped out by additional expenditures needed in providing additional disposal facilities.
"Against this one disadvantage, we can state the following advantages:
1. The proposed plan will show the least ultimate cost because--
2. It will clean up the Hackensack River, which in turn will lead to the following benefits--
"While the ultimate advantages far outweight the present disadvantages, yet I fully realize the strength of the one point which is raised against the immediate construction of the sewer, and if the additional cost were also immediate, it would probably be the controlling reason. However, at the earliest, rental charges could hardly begin before 1940 and at approximately that time we will be faced with additional expenditures for sewage disposal at all events, and by that time it can be justly expected that Teaneck's financial position will have become increasingly sound.
"In the belief that the Township of Teaneck would not be serving its own ultimate good if it should preemptorily reject the present proposition, it is then my considered recommendation that the Township of Teaneck lend encouragement to the project by expressing its general approval of the plan, withholding, however, any definite action of becoming a party thereto until the question of rates and law raised herein have been equitably determined."
Late in 1930 the personnel of the sewer department was reduced and re-organized. At present the general charge of the Division is one of the functions ,if the Superintendent of Public Works. He has under him four operators, three full time and one half time, who look after the four plants above mentioned, and in addition three pumping plants for sewage which does not flow to its outlet by gravity alone, but must be assisted by pumping machinery. The largest of these pumping plants lifts the sewage from the valley in which the West Shore Railroad lies over the West Englewood hill to the Hackensack, another plant pumps the sewage from a small area in the extreme northwestern part of the Township up to River Road, and the third is in the southern section of Glenwood Park. Of the four operators, one is designated as Chief Operator, and his duties, aside from operating the Glenwood Park plant, consist of a daily visit to all of the other plants, lending help wherever may be necessary and seeing that the proper supplies and materials are on hand. Any special work such as the removal of sludge is furnished by labor from the Street Department.
Aside from the maintenance work actually done at the plants, the sewers themselves need both routine and emergency attention. The emergency attention is required when stoppage in any sewer occurs. Naturally most of these stoppages occur in house connections, and the policy has been established that stoppages in house connections are the responsibility of the property owners, who use these connections. This is on the theory that if any person carelessly uses his sewers so that the house connection becomes blocked, there is no reason why his next door neighbor or any other taxpayer in the Township should help to pay for the carelessness of that individual. If, however, a property owner excavates a house connection in order to remove the stoppage and it is discovered that the cause of this stoppage was poor workmanship in the original installation, the Township takes over the repair job without cost to the owner.
The routine work in caring for the sewers consists of periodic flushing and sometimes scraping from manhole to manhole. During the summer months a gang of three or four men is constantly busy at this work. The gang also looks after the storm sewers and the cleaning of catch basins.
Some of the unseen factors entering into the total costs of the maintenance of the sanitary sewers are the bills for power and water. At three locations in the Township the sewage is pumped, Windsor Road, Riverview Avenue, as before mentioned, and at the Glenwood Park Disposal Plant. The total bills for the power used during 1933 amount to $3,448.03. Considerable water is used at each of the plants for cleansing purposes and for the proper operation of the tanks. This entailed a charge of $1,511.42 during 1933.
The adequacy of the storm sewers throughout the Township is, as a whole, much below that of the sanitary sewers. Storm sewers as they exist in general are inadequate in number and sometimes in size. More than this, and strange as it may seem, there are a number of storm sewers which have no outlet. In some cases a large hole seems to have been excavated at their extremity and filled with rock and stone, forming a leaching basin. In other cases, even this seems to have been omitted. Of course the carrying capacity of such sewers is practically nil.
Parks, Buildings and Grounds
Reference to the figure at the head of this section shows, for the last three years, a considerable reduction in the cost of these items which are here discussed together.
In 1931 the Township built and equipped a playground and wading pool on the Township property at a cost of approximately $1,500.
It is also believed that the Town Hall -,rounds and building have been kept up to the high standard that had been set. In general, the reductions were made by decreasing the personnel devoted to the care of parks, buildings and grounds. Aside from the new playground and the swimming pool and the planting of a few additional trees, the Town Hall grounds have not been radically improved since the construction of the building and the grading operations. A landscape architect should be engaged to make a comprehensive study and recommendation as to planting and replacements. Having such a plan, based upon the final development of the grounds, as shown in the Planning Board report, it can then be definitely worked to for a number of years. Many of the trees on the grounds have reached the end of their life, and should be systematically replaced.
The Town Hall itself will, before many years, need the two wings which were provided for in the original plan, and the fact that the library quarters are even now overcrowded is generally known. All of the ground lying between the northerly limits of the Township property and Merrison Street is now being acquired in accordance with the recommendation of the Planning Board.
In this connection the report of the Planning Board should be reviewed. As that report points out, the Township of Teaneck is sadly lacking in park areas, the proportional area per capita being very much below the standard. This lack of parks is not at present felt because much of the Township's area is still a natural park, but the time will come when these areas are also cut up into streets, and then, unless provision is now made, the lack of parks will make itself distinctly felt.
As to the West Englewood Park, otherwise known as the Station Park, it is felt that this has been adequately maintained on a comparable basis, with that of previous years. Minor work has been done in the repair of the drives and the entire western face of the embankment was replanted with shrubs and the ground at the bottom reseeded. It will be two or three years yet before this replanting of shrubs really shows itself. All such shrubs as died during the year have been replaced by the nursery that furnished them. The Advisory Board on Art prepared a plan for a new and more complete layout of drives and walks in this park.
In 1933, areas at the Town Hall grounds and at the Vandelinda Disposal Plant have been converted into nurseries. About 3,000 scotch pines and 4,000 spruce were planted, as were about five hundred young trees of various species, averaging ten feet in height. Additional ground has been prepared to plant another 5,000 young trees this year. The large trees were taken from vacant lots and the small trees were bought from the State Forestry Department.
Equipment and Supplies, Etc.
For the mileage of roads, sewers and sidewalks in the Township of Teaneck, the Road Department does not seem to have had either enough or sufficient equipment, and even with the additions of recent years, the equipment certainly is not lavish. Replacements in general have been made only when the old equipment could no longer be rebuilt. The three new trucks have been purchased by savings made by the department in its other appropriations. Practically all of the repair work is done by the department's mechanics.
Supplies for the department, such as stone, asphalt and gasoline, are bought on contracts resulting from formal bids taken once a year. In the purchase of miscellaneous supplies comparative prices are asked for.
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tel.: (201) 837-4171, Fax: (201) 837-0410