The two candidates for Clarkstown Superintendent of
Highways, who are also highway department employees, differ over the readiness
of equipment to collect leaves.
Their opposing opinions came to a head at Tuesday’s Clarkstown Town Board meeting.
The Highway Department’s Fleet Manager Dennis Malone, who reports to the town board, insisted all the necessary equipment will be serviced and ready to go for leaf collection season. The town board’s creation of Malone’s position is the subject of a lawsuit by current Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard that the action violated state law.
“We are actively getting all that equipment ready,” said Malone on Wednesday. “He wants it ready by November 4th and it will be.”
Ballard wrote in e-mail that he first brought up his concerns about the readiness of equipment on August 14.
“I am further concerned based on the sporadic reports I receive from the Fleet Manager that lack pertinent information about any of the equipment and have inaccurate data throughout each report,” he stated. “Mr. Malone’s recent equipment report notes that only one piece is ready of the 45 pieces of equipment needed for the leaf season.”
Their disagreement caused Town Director of Finance John Sullivan to intervene and meet with them and Deputy Highway Superintendent Andrew Lawrence on Wednesday. Sullivan also scheduled another round of meetings for Monday.
Superintendent Alex Gromack described the situation on Thursday.
“This is a bit of an anomaly,” he said. “We get one side of a story from Mr. Malone. We get one side of a story from Mr. Ballard.”
Malone said repair work is in progress and he has plenty of spare parts available, which were bought last year and never used. Because of the damage from Hurricane Sandy, the leaves were not vacuumed but were picked along with branches and other debris by other equipment known as “claws” that is attached to a front loader.
“The storm changed the whole matrix of how leaves were picked up,” he said.
Ballard said it is critical for the leaf equipment to be ready on time and noted the leaf vacuums were due to be replaced this year but were not because of lack of funding.
“The leaf season, however, is a race against time to get as many leaves up as possible before the winter snow and ice,” wrote Ballard.
Sullivan said Ballard is anxious about the department’s preparedness for leaf season and they reviewed all his concerns. Sullivan said he and Lawrence went through the list of concerns.
“We’re confident everything will be ready for leaf season,” said Sullivan, who will continue to monitor the preparation.
The lawsuit filed in November 2012 by Ballard along with the Highway Superintendents Association of Rockland County and New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways claimed Clarkstown violated New York State statue by creating a fleet manager position that reported to the town board instead of the highway superintendent.
Attorney Dennis Lynch said the judge presiding over the case
last week denied Clarkstown’s motion to dismiss the complaint. He said the
judge also ruled that Ballard is the only plaintiff who has standing in the
case and removed the superintendents’ associations. The judge set a conference
for later this month for the town to respond to the central question of the
lawsuit, which was whether its action was valid.