Have you been able to drive easily through Hellertown lately or park along Main Street without a problem? If so, you can thank the borough’s public works department for that.
Officially, 38.2 inches of snow has fallen at Lehigh Valley International Airport so far in February alone; more snow than the area normally receives in an entire winter season.
Tom Rieger, Hellertown Borough Council president, publicly thanked public works staff under the direction of Barry Yonney at council’s Feb. 16 meeting, remarking that they’ve done a fantastic job of getting as much snow removed from the streets as possible.
“They are continuing to work,” Rieger said. “It is very time-consuming and (the) equipment (is) heavy to move the snow. We have moved…(there) has to be thousands of tons of snow at this point. The mounds are huge.”
The public works department has been assisted with snow removal on Main Street and elsewhere by local contractors such as Walters Excavating of Lower Saucon Township.
Rieger said snow removal operations continued when the plows had to go back on the department’s trucks for the Feb. 18 snowstorm.
Some Hellertown residents praised the snow removal team for the work they have done so far in live Facebook comments posted during the livestream of the council meeting.
Cathy Hartranft, Hellertown Borough Manager, agreed that the snow removal effort has been going well so far this winter.
Hartranft said there haven’t been many problems with snow removal operations and stressed that when there is two feet of snow, there will be delays in removing some of it.
She noted that the contractors who assisted with snow removal on Main Street for two days following the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 snowstorm helped public works widen the street faster.
Hartranft said in spite of the frequent snows the area has seen this month, the borough’s public works department is well within its annual budget for salt, having used approximately 152 tons of salt for snow removal so far this winter. They typically budget $21,000 for salt and snow removal as well as winter road maintenance, and have spent approximately $9,000 so far this year, she said.
“Going into this winter, we had a full capacity of salt due to the mild winter we had in 2020,” Hartranft said.
Kris Russo, Zoning and Codes Enforcement Officer for the borough, said he’s had to contact a handful of property owners about removing snow from their sidewalks in the wake of the storms. Per borough ordinance, homeowners and commercial property owners have 24 hours from the time a store ends to clear their sidewalks. Russo said he’s fielded about 10 complaints that involved both residential and commercial properties whose walkways were remained in poor condition.
“I’m still following up with a few properties as we speak to ensure the snow/ice is removed and the sidewalks are easily navigable,” Russo said.
Public works staff in Hellertown and elsewhere had another busy day Monday, when up to six inches of snow fell in a burst from around 9 a.m. to mid-afternoon. The quick-hitting storm made roads difficult for some school buses to navigate and caused disruptions to garbage and recycling collection.
Mother Nature is now scheduled to give public works crews in Hellertown and elsewhere a well-deserved break for the rest of this month, with warmer temperatures expected to melt some of the snow on the ground and prevent more from falling from above.