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CLEAN SWEEPERS: Crew clearing sand from village roads

April 22, 2010
ERIC VOORHIS, News Staff Writer

     LAKE PLACID — Two Bobcat tractors equipped with large spinning brooms zipped up Victor Herbert Drive on Tuesday, sweeping sand into a neat pile down the center of the road.  A yellow Elgin street sweeper, large and square like a dirt Zamboni, followed, picking up the remaining sand and leaving the road clear.

    With two dump trucks, two tractors and the Elgin sweeper, seven members of the village highway department began a second round of clearing Lake Placid roads this week, which is done to prevent sand used during winter snowstorms from washing into drainage systems and waterways.

    And they had their work cut out for them.

    According to Brad Hathaway, Lake Placid department of public works supervisor, the highway department put down much more sand than previous years — around 600,000 pounds throughout the winter.

    “We had a lot of nuisance snow this winter,” Hathaway said. “We would get two inches here, two inches there, and we put down sand every time.”

    To get a jump on the cleanup effort, the highway department started sand removal early this year, trying to raise as much sand off the roads as possible.

    “It’s been going well so far,” Hathaway said. “Our guys are out there working hard.”

    Hathaway sat behind his desk at the public works office on Cascade Road. A CB radio across the room crackled every so often with murmurs of highway department workers planning their next move. Hathaway leaned in to listen.

    “It sounds like they’re hitting a couple of frozen spots,” he said. “Not much you can do about that, it just has to melt.”

    After finishing this round, the highway department will circle the town one final time with hopes of being completely done with the cleanup by the first week of May.   

    The crew starts the process in the Hillcrest area near the Crowne Plaza resort at the highest point of town, according to Hathaway, and they work down from there. He said the biggest issue, aside from aesthetics, is the environmental impact sand can have on the ecosystems of Mirror Lake and surrounding waters.

    “We try to keep a good eye on the lake,” Hathaway said. “We go down Main Street and around the lake a lot of times throughout this process.”

    According to Hathaway, when a substantial amount of sand washes into Mirror Lake, it can be detrimental to wildlife, especially fish populations.

    “What happens is that the sand fills in rocky bottoms near the shore of the lake,” Hathaway said. “From what the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) has told me, this is an essential place for fish to spawn.”

    With environmental impacts in mind, Hathaway also said he likes to see the roads clear when nice weather comes around to provide safe conditions for bikers.

    According to Mike Goddeau, who was operating a dump truck on Tuesday afternoon, the cleanup process takes quite a bit of orchestrating.

    Bob Whitney and Phil Perry sat in two Bobcat tractors, waiting as Mike Corrow, a 20-year veteran of the highway department, crept along slowly in the Elgin street sweeper. Dirt was being kicked up on either side, but the effects of the cleanup were well maintained.

    “The Elgin wets down the sand before picking it up, which helps keep the dust down,” Goddeau said. “If you don’t wet it down you get a pretty big mess. People would be calling in and screaming at us.”

    After the sand is picked up and placed in the dump truck, it’s taken back to the highway department headquarters and left in a large fill pit. According to Hathaway, the sand cannot be used again for preventing winter hazards, but most of it gets recycled for other projects around the village. He also said the sand cleanup in the Lake Placid Village is unique for the area because the roads are cleared entirely, instead of debris being pushed off to the side.

    During the final cleanup next week, the highway department will pick up sand on some lawns when possible, but they urge residents to rake sand out into the street, to make things a little easier.

    “These guys that are out there are second to none,” Hathaway said. “They’re great at what they do.”

Article Photos

Brad Greene, Mike Corrow, Mike Goddeau, Bob Whitney and Phil Perry, members of the Lake Placid Village Highway Department.

Eric Voorhis/Lake Placid News



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