Category Archives: DPW

Middletown Patch: Middletown mayor explains status of the township department and Gregg Silva, its longtime director

For those interested in the “official” version of Gregg Silva’s retirement/termination (Middletown’s longtime Director of Parks and Recreation), Middletown Patch did a good job of following up my story about his departure.

It’s funny how my phone call to Tony Mercantante about Silva went unreturned but when asked about Silva by Patch editor Elaine Van Develde, Tony Fiore stated to her that no one inquired about him and therefore the Township wasn’t planning to explain his departure anytime soon.
In the article Fiore confirmed much of what I wrote about and explained how the now employeeless Department of Parks and Recreation would be split-up and divided between the Department of Public Works and Janet Adams, the Director of the Tonya Keller Center in North Middletown.
Fiore also stated that due to Silva’s decision to “retire” no personnel investigation or hearings were conducted on Silva and due to legal constraints he wouldn’t elaborate further.
You can all about read it Here if interested

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Filed under DPW, fired, Gregg Silva, Middletown Parks and Recreation, Middletown Patch, retirement, Tony Fiore, Tonya Keller Center

Letters To The Independent Expressing Outrage Over Cancellation Of Fall Brush Pick-Up

This letter appearing online today and in print tomorrow in The Independent sums up how some residents feel towards the notion that Middletown has decided to suspend the fall brush collection and fine anyone putting debris curbside this year.

It just happens to be a nice and coincidental accompaniment to my earlier post.

I have been living in Middletown since January of 2003 and have a totally different view of the brush collection than what was described in the Aug. 11 issue of the Independent (Brush collection at issue in Middletown).

The leaf collections in my district have usually been designated around Nov. 1 of the year. The leaves don’t start falling until Oct. 30 and aren’t finished falling until Dec. 1. I don’t have anything to put out on Nov. 1. It’s unrealistic to think that a leaf pickup can be made around Nov. 1; in general, the leaves haven’t fallen and been gathered until around Thanksgiving.

As long as I can remember, there has been a brush pickup around the third week in August. No one is even thinking about pruning anything during the dog days of August, but since it’s been that way for the past eight years, I started to work in my yard around Aug. 1. I didn’t put anything out, because I was waiting to get the flier in the mail giving the dates. When it didn’t arrive, I checked the Middletown website and it was frozen for about two weeks because a new website was being initiated.

When I didn’t receive my tax bill in the mail, I decided to check for tax information on the Middletown website. While I was looking for the tax deadlines, I saw there was a notice that the brush pickups had been completed and as of July 20, the pickup was suspended until next spring. It came as a complete surprise to me.

As I walked around the area, I mentioned the pickup suspension to neighbors and friends, and no one knew there was going to be a suspension of the brush pickup until the spring.

Your article mentions that some people have put brush out. Of course they have; after all, they’ve been living here for years and there’s always been a brush pickup around the third week in August. No notices have gone out to state otherwise. Surely they could have put a notice in with the tax statements and bills.

The winter of 2009-10 was particularly brutal — ice storms, heavy snow, high winds. There was a tremendous amount of damage in Middletown; it seemed no one escaped it. Our property had huge pine limbs down, from my yard, from neighbors’ yards, blocking sidewalks; everywhere you looked therewere problems. In late February as soon as the snow melted, my husband and I started to make some progress to fix fences, cut limbs and pile up debris on our property. Then on March 13 we had a horrendous wind and rainstorm and that morning when we opened our garage door we had a huge pine tree come down. Thankfully there was no one harmed, no damage to the property, but still a huge tree down.

A leaf pickup had been scheduled for March 18 because the leaf pickup in this area had been in early November and no one had leaves out then because there wasn’t much down at that time. Most of the leaves had been crushed and frozen, so there wasn’t much to put out. Then on the night of March 17, as my husband and I returned from dinner out, there was a message from the township on our answering machine. It was 8 p.m., March 17, and there was a message on my phone that the pickup for leaves and brush would begin on the morning of March 18. We couldn’t believe our ears. The next morning my husband left for work at 6 a.m., and at 7 a.m. I started hauling the logs, limbs, leaves, brush, you name it, out to the street.

By 10:30 a.m. I was exhausted, and there they were, doing the pickup. Maybe 10 percent of it was out. What was I to now do with the 90 percent that remained, including a huge pine tree that needed to be chopped up? That Saturday morning, some friends came to help us and they had a truck and helped us get the debris to the dump. We had gotten a huge 14-hour notice on the pickup — someone must have gotten a big laugh out of that, but believe me, it wasn’t me.

Yes, people do put brush and leaves out too early sometimes — it happens. It seems that not too much thought goes into the scheduling of these pickups and there’s a sincere lack of organization and planning. I have registered on the township website and I have gotten alerts about storms and electric problems, and I think I should have gotten a phone message or an email alert about the suspension of the fall brush pickup. Now I’ve been spending my time breaking brush up into plastic bags and bringing it toKane’s Lane and cleaning my car out after every pickup. Thanks a bunch, Middletown!

Now let’s get to the point of fines. I’d like to fine someone for not picking up my spring pickup until the last week of June this year. That was a disgrace! It was a traffic hazard and a pedestrian hazard, especially where there are no sidewalks. Maybe the citizens should start fining government and things will get straightened out.

Anne and Tom Cafiero Middletown

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Filed under brush and leaf pickup, DPW, fallen branches, letter to the editor, Middletown NJ, storm debris, the Independent

Middletown Cancels Fall Brush Pick-Up; who will pay to have their brush picked up after Hurricane Irene blows through?

Some may have come to hear that Middletown has suspended its fall brush pick-up this year and will levy a hefty fine on any homeowners placing brush in the street curbside. I would bet however that many more haven’t heard about it.

On July 29th, the Township announced that it was suspending the fall brush pick-up through a newsflash and posting on its website.

During the August 1st Township Workshop meeting a further discussion took place amongst Mayor Fiore, Deputy Mayor Brightbill, Committeeman Gerry Scharfenberger and other township professionals that sighted apathy of residents, the cost to pick-up brush, diminished manpower and the fact that the Fall brush pick-up just isn’t that important.

Furthermore a new and improved brush/leaf ordinance was introduced that puts some teeth into the old brush/leaf ordinance by allowing the Police Department and Code Enforcement Officers to issue summonses of some, as yet undetermined sum. In addition, if the Department of Public Works has to cleanup the improperly placed debris, they will charge the homeowner with the costs of removal and disposal of said debris.

But what will happen to homeowners now that the brush pick-up is canceled, when a hurricane like the upcoming Hurricane Irene, blows through and leaves widespread storm debris and broken tree limbs all over the place; will the Township decide that they must reverse it’s decision and collect fallen debris or just leave homeowners to their own recourses? This isn’t right and seems like way to squeeze residents with a hidden tax to clean up fall brush that has always been part of the residents’ taxes to being with. After all, the cost of gasoline and the amount of roads throughout the township hasn’t changed much from last year; how much additional would it really cost? If you look back to just last year, the Township combined the leaf and brush pick-up in many areas and those on the Township Committee almost fell over backwards, patting themselves on the back and heaping praise on the DPW for completing the job before Christmas.

The same could be done this year.

Another possible solution to the cancelling of the fall brush pick-up altogether and then charging/fining residents if they place debris curbside would be to publish scheduled brush pick-up dates as is normally done, but instead of going house to house picking up brush, have residents call the DPW and inform them of the need for pick-up. In this way the collection can be done efficiently in one or two days as opposed to the several or more days currently scheduled. If after that time, it is found that residents in a given zone have left brush at the curbside do you charge them for pick-up service or send them summonses for non-compliance of the new and improved ordinance.

The past few years the Republican majority in Middletown have ran on slogans like “Taxpayers First” and “New Faces/New Ideas” but all Middletown has gotten is higher taxes and less services from a few new faces that have recycled ideas from others as if they were their own.

If a couple of big storms/hurricanes make it our way before the end of the season there will be a need need for a fall brush pick-up, hopefully that need will not be a burden. All ready stressed residents shouldn’t have to pay a hidden tax to have their storm debris collected by the Township when they have become accustomed to this type of public service in the past.

This truly is a “Quality of Life” issue.

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Filed under brush and leaf pickup, DPW, hurricane damage and debris, Middletown Township Committee, public service, quality of life

Middletown Considering Cancellation Of Fall Brush Pick-Ups

According to an article not posted on-line as of yet, but which appears in today’s printed version of the Asbury Park Press, it seem that Middletown is considering eliminating fall brush pick-up.

According to the article, Ted Maloney Middletown’s Director of Public Works, said that all 36 employees of the DPW have been spending their time collecting leaves and brush this year after the horrible winter we had and have not been able to devote much time at all to other duties like paving roads, repairing drain pipes (like the one outside my house, where the road has collapsed) or maintaining various buildings and grounds around town. The elimination of the fall brush pick-up would then allow employees to concentrate on their efforts in those areas once they have finished collecting leaves and brush that remain scattered around the township later this month.
But of course the mayor can’t make this decision alone, he has to figure out how best to get residents reactions first – should it be discussed at a future public meeting or pose it as a question in the Townships newsletter Middletown Matters? Here’s an idea, how about placing another “Suggestion Box” on the townships website if you don’t wish to engage the public directly like so many other issues that effect the town.
Leaf pick-ups this fall, as of right now, will go on as scheduled but the township will be collecting bids shortly from contractors in an attempt to privatize the service (privatizing the leaf and brush pick-ups has been something that Committeeman Sean Byrnes as been advocating for sometime now). But of course, before any contracts are awarded the mayor has to first see if it makes sense to privatize the service or continue to pick-up leaves in-house.
Committeeman Byrnes was mentioned as saying that he believes the savings from privatizing the collections will come from being able to further downsize the township’s labor force, which will save the township the cost of salaries, health and pension benefits.
Mayor Scharfenberger counters that privatizing my not be a good idea unless additional employees can be eliminated, which he seems to doubt, because those individuals do more than just pick-up leaves and brush around town and that would just make the cost of privatizing an additional expense to the tax payers.
That may or may not be so, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. But one thing is for sure, if Scharfenberger or one of the other members of the majority proposed the idea of privatizing the collection of leaf and brush instead of Sean Byrnes, it would have been touted as a great idea and implemented as soon as possible.
I am curious to hear what Scharfenberger has to say about what the recommendations made by the Governor’s Commission on Privatization had to say about privatizing motor vehicle inspections, public parks, tolls and road and whatever else is in their report.
I am sure that it will all be marvelous to him and will show to others what a great governor Christie is turning out to be. Ironic isn’t it?

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Filed under DPW, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, leaf and brush pick-up, privatizing services, Sean F. Byrnes, Ted Maloney