NEW TRUCK SUCKS BETTER THAN THE OLD ONE

ls-truckThis pale blue beauty has seen its last days on Little Silver streets. Public Works is getting a brand new one to tend to all the gutter and basin cleaning needed this time of year. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

All the signs were there and Little Silver’s decisionmakers knew that the public works department’s powder blue, rust-spotted baby’s days were numbered in town.

It was old, from 1985, and the problems, most recently a ruptured hose, were becoming more frequent. It was only a question of how much longer the jet and vacuum truck could continue sucking leaves and debris from drains and catch basins throughout town.

Following a thoroughly argued discourse on the topic and a split vote that caused the mayor to tip the scales, the answer has come, as borough finally pulled the trigger to buy a new jet and vacuum truck for its DPW.

It’ll be a $180,000 Vac-Con, which Borough Administrator Michael Biehl said will have a purchase order in within a week or two, thus ending at least two years of discussion among the council and neighboring towns on how to rationalize and maximize the purchase of such a piece of equipment with such a hefty price tag.

Little Silver was in the market years ago for a new truck — or, at least a newer truck — but languished in the land of bureaucracy, being told a truck from the Two River Water Reclamation Authority would become available. It never did. Then the borough started talking to its neighbors, including Oceanport and Shrewsbury, to see if they’d be interested in sharing services to lessen the cost to the town for the purchase.

Shrewsbury still may enter into a shared services agreement with Little Silver, and possibly even build a washing/drainage facility for future use, Biehl said.

But the council narrowly decided to go ahead and get a new truck because, some said, inspecting and cleaning the borough’s drains and catch basins is a necessary service. And after a hose recently exploded, the truck has been downgraded to a limited use by public works, Council President Robert Neff Jr. said.

“We have a guy that won’t ride it anymore,” he said. “It’s that dangerous.”

Nobody on the council doubted that a new truck was needed. Several members wanted to explore different options — perhaps outsourcing this year’s maintenance for at an estimated $57,000 — and hold off on a purchase until another town concretely agreed to share services.

“I understand there are needs, but I don’t feel this is worth it right now,” Councilman Daniel Levine said. “I can’t vote for something that might happen.”

He, along with two other councilman, didn’t, leaving the deciding vote to Mayor Suzanne Castleman, who was in favor of getting the truck.

The benefit of the new truck, Biehl said, is that unlike a used one, there’ll be a warranty on it. Also, the expected life span of the trucks is between 20 and 25 years. The cost for the truck has been included in the borough’s budget the last couple years, Biehl added.