Six of the city’s seven street sweepers are out-of-service leaving much of the city without weekly street cleaning, according to officials.
Council members questioned mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration the sweepers being offline on Tuesday night. Business administrator Nellie Pou said the sweepers said there are a number of sweepers that are inoperable and need parts to be brought back online.
“I’ve been getting increasing number of complaints the streets are not being swept,” said council president William McKoy. He said residents are moving their vehicles on street cleaning days, but the sweepers are not coming.
“I’ve received countless complaints,” added Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman.
Public works supervisor Michael Jackson said some of the machines have been inoperable for as long as three months. He said the problem exacerbated in the last two weeks when six of the seven new sweepers purchased in 2014 with $1.26 million were rendered inoperable.
Some of the machines require small repair or part replacement like the broom. Jackson said he believes there’s a payment issue between the seller of the machine Northeast Sweepers of Belleville and the city.
The city does not have the parts needed to fix the equipment. There was a similar issue that arose last summer. Maintenance records reviewed by the Paterson Times at the time revealed some of the machine operators had been doing a poor job operating and maintaining the equipment.
Public works director Manuel Ojeda did not respond to a call for comment.
Those operators were provided additional training by the dealer and the manufacturer stepped in to rectify the issue saving taxpayers from having to spend money to purchase five new machines.
Pou said the machines are old. The city is in no mood to purchase new sweepers as the administration would like.
“My car is 16 years old. I’m not thrilled with the idea, we spent all that money on street sweepers, and six years later you’re telling me they are down,” said McKoy.
Council members also said the governing body should have been informed about this “significant” problem with the street cleaning program. The council president indicated the administration failed to inform the public works committee or the president of the council about the machine breakdowns.
In the meantime, the public works department is using the remaining new machine to clean city streets.
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