Question 3: Verona has many infrastructure issues that require immediate attention. Which ones would you focus on first and why, and what would be the benefits of doing so?
I think the wording of the question is misleading and implies that Verona is in some sort of infrastructure crisis. I do not believe that to be the case and I have full faith in the professionalism and dedication of the management and members of the Department of Public Works in their maintenance and upkeep of Verona’s common systems.
All systems require preventative and routine maintenance as well as planned (and budgeted) capital improvements to prevent functional obsolescence. Streets and sewers generally require the most attention because they are used by every resident, every day and the benefit of a comprehensive preventative maintenance and capital improvement plan is both the increased longevity of the system as a whole and the prevention of catastrophic, emergency repairs.
As the property manager and landlord of several residential buildings which are home to nearly 500 residents, I have daily experience with routine maintenance versus emergency maintenance as well as the planning and budgeting that go along with both. I believe that recognizing the difference between isolated events and systemic problems is the key to effective systems maintenance and long term budgeting; and I will look to the professionals who have made a career out of maintaining our systems for their assistance and input.
Sewer backup is a common complaint and legitimate concern of Verona residents, but to say we need a sweeping overhaul of our sewer system without fully examining the problem would be both wasteful and irresponsible. 2018 had the most rainfall on record since 1895 (NJ Herald); July saw over 11 inches of rain versus the normal of about 4. During a rain event last year the Verona water treatment facility was overwhelmed with storm water runoff and inundated causing a system wide back up. That however, was a single incident and sizing the system to accommodate the worst case storm scenario would be fiscally irresponsible. Compare that to certain streets that back up with minimal rainfall which may indicate a systemic problem with root intrusion or back pitch and that is a situation that should be addressed with a capital improvement.
In my nearly 15 year career in building construction and maintenance, I am constantly reviewing the best practices of similar sized operations to capitalize on both “tried and true” methods that have proven effective over the long term, as well as the application of new technology and the lessons learned. For example, this year I required my snow removal contactor in Jersey City to use Polyurethane cutting edges on his plows so as to not damage sidewalk and parking lot surfaces. Most plows use steel and you can see the sparks during snow removal. Steel fully protects the plows, but it more aggressively chews up the road surface. In my role regarding facility maintenance, I would rather pay a little more to the snow removal contractor for a less aggressive blade, then have to re-pave a parking lot or replace a sidewalk prematurely. This may be an opportunity to address another common Verona resident complaint, potholes and road surfaces.
I have full faith in the professionals of Verona’s DPW and will work alongside of them as we continue to maintain and enhance the township’s common systems through deliberative planning for routine and preventative maintenance, as well as budgeted capital improvements.