HomeMedford NewsMedford’s struggles with large snowfall resurface

Medford’s struggles with large snowfall resurface

snow storm

When Medford Township started hearing the alarming warnings about Winter Storm Jonas, it handled its business like any other township would.

It began prepping by putting plows on trucks, making sure the salt bins were full and getting together a timeline for how operations were going to work.

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The fire and police chiefs, OEM group, director of parks and township manager met several times to go over how they planned to tackle the storm.

Snow operations began at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning when the first plow was dispatched, and they worked around the clock until Sunday evening.

However, if you logged onto Facebook or listened to the radio the morning after the storm, you were aware of how Medford’s operations fell short of its residents’ expectations.

People from all over Burlington County were up in arms about the terrible conditions of the roads in Medford days after the storm.

Medford resident Cheryle Hojnacki has pictures of her street being covered in about three inches of snow on Tuesday afternoon when it was nearly 50 degrees outside while other neighboring townships were clear and ready to go when the work week started on Monday morning.

“My street looked horrifying,” Hojnacki said. “I drove around and I was irate, paying top dollar for taxes.”

Councilman Chris Buoni advised Hojnacki that while Medford’s residents do pay a lot in taxes, only 12 percent of what they pay goes to the town’s services and infrastructure. The other 88 percent is going to the school system and the county.

The problem Medford faces is it is a very large township with very few people compared to a neighboring town such as Evesham that had no problems clearing roads during Jonas. However, Evesham’s budget is also around $40 million while Medford’s is roughly half of that because of the population difference.

Evesham’s commercial income is significantly more than Medford’s each year, which plays a large role in this issue.

For residents such as Alberta Wolf, the township’s issues with significant snowfall have become a noticeable pattern. Wolf reached out to the county once again this winter as she noticed this becoming a reoccurring problem whenever the area gets hit with a snowstorm.

“I wanted to see why Medford wasn’t being treated like the other towns in the county. I feel like Medford has become the county’s step child,” she said.

She was advised by the county that nearly half of its 40 municipalities have an agreement with the county to plow their roads and Medford is not one of them.

She suggested township council consider entering Medford into this agreement for the safety of its residents.

“I think it would be in everybody’s best interest,” Wolf said. “Medford doesn’t need this black eye all the time.”

Medford uses rubber tips on the end of its plow blades, and that was a widely-discussed topic among the township as to why its plows have failed. The thought process behind it is to prevent a truck from hitting a utility and going down, but it lowers the total number of useable trucks to three. If two of the four were to go down, the township would run into a major problem because it only has one mechanic.

The township switched to the standard steel blades on the Monday and Tuesday following the weekend of the storm and saw better results on the roads but also experienced the breakdowns they feared would take place.

“We learned from this storm. We have a plan going forward, and there will be steel blades in certain areas of town,” township manager Kathy Berger said.

In next year’s budget, the township hopes to use strictly four-wheel drive vehicles after the two-wheel drive vehicles could not move around in this storm.

“They got stuck and we spent more time pulling them out than we did operating,” Berger said.

“It’s a balancing act and I’m not saying we can’t do better,” Buoni said. “But we learned from it. We are moving in the right direction.”

“Based on the improvement we’ve made this past year in leaf pickup, I have no doubt we’ll see improvements going forward,” Mayor Jeffrey Beenstock said.


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