SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – Employees of the Southwick Department of Public Works (DPW) spent several hours this week preparing for winter by learning more about the town’s wheel loader.
The Wacker Neuson wheel loader was rented last year to clear the town’s new sidewalks on College Highway and was purchased for just under $70,000.
DPW Director Randy Brown said the vehicle proved invaluable in clearing snow from municipal sidewalks, including those in front of Town Hall, the DPW, library and police and fire stations. The price included a discount for the cost of renting the loader, which was $2,200 per month for four months last winter. Brown said the loader will save the town in labor cost and time all year.
“This is a four-season machine,” said Brown. “The purchase price included several attachments so we can use it all year. And, we’re looking into a street sweeper attachment.”
The loader includes snow blower, bucket and forklift attachments. The one issue, said Brown, is the time it takes to switch over to the snow blower. “It takes several hours, so we will keep the snow blower attached all winter,” he said. “But when the bucket is attached, putting on the forklift is pretty easy.”
Staff from Tri County Construction – the company the town rented and purchased the loader from – were on-hand this week teaching DPW employees how to change the attachments.
The clearing of town sidewalks was once the job of the buildings and grounds department but when the state put sidewalks in all the way up College Highway, the task became too large for the small department to handle with a traditional snow blower.
“We now have about 2,000 feet of municipal sidewalks,” said Brown.
The loader can clear them much faster than a person pushing a snow blower, which saves time and labor, said Brown. “We want to be able to stay on top of things and clear snow as it comes down,” Brown added.
Property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks of snow and ice within 24-hours of a storm.
Media Credit: The Westfield News