Newtown Township will use $292,882 of its $2 million allotment from the federal American Rescue Plan Act on a new street sweeper to replace the current 20-year-old sweeper that is often out of commission.
The township board of supervisors approved the purchase through the state’s cooperative CoStars bidding system by a 3-1 vote at last Wednesday night’s meeting. Board Chairman Dennis Fisher voted in favor along with fellow members Phil Calabro and Kyle Davis. Supervisor Elen Snyder was the lone no vote.
“I’m not in favor of this at this time,” she said. “I wish we could find a way to not use such a big chunk of Rescue Plan money on this. I think it is needed in other places.”
Fisher said the amount could be offset somewhat by about $20,000 the township might get from selling the current sweeper. That might not happen for quite awhile because township Manager Micah Lewis said he hopes the new sweeper will arrive within two years, an estimate that reflects a problem nearly all municipalities are having with getting new public works, police and other equipment because of production and distribution issues caused mainly by the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked by Calabro if there are any other grants available for the purchase to avoid using so much Rescue Plan money, Lewis said he was not aware of any at this time.
Lewis said the township tries to get to as many roads as possible with the sweeper, an effort being made difficult because the current 2003 sweeper is so often in the shop. Sweepers not only help remove a lot of dirt and other sediment from roads, they are also necessary in complying with various stormwater management regulations because they act to keep a lot of that sediment from washing into waterways, the manager noted.
And while it doesn’t really apply to this winter, sweepers are also very helpful in getting rid of sediment resulting from salting and snow plowing operations, Calabro added.
In other news from the meeting’s meeting, Snyder announced there will be a special public meeting of the township Environmental Advisory Commission at 7 p.m. April 3 in the main meeting room of the municipal building, just off Route 413. It will include many representatives of businesses in the township and will focus on single-use plastics and efforts to reduce their use, said Snyder, the supervisors’ liaison to the EAC,