The post-Hurricane Irene cleanup of Riverside Park in West Mahwah won’t begin until this spring at the earliest, Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet said. According to Laforet, especially with the added challenges brought by the October snowstorm, the Department of Public Works is focusing on other cleanup projects across the township.
He also said the ground condition at the park is still swamped, which complicates the cleanup. Laforet said the grass and fields are “loaded with water.” DPW Director Keith Hallissey said the department is focusing on “finishing up some of the more difficult areas for leaves,” right now, and will move on to parks after projects like that.
According to the new mayor, the “DPW is doing everything they can do and has done a remarkable job, given the magnitude of the task.”
For residents in the area, though, losing the community park has been an inconvenience. According to one West Mahwah resident, “after watching the flood waters rise and take out neighbor's house after neighbor's house, and watching rescue workers pull people out of the flood waters with a fan boat, it is depressing and frustrating to walk in our little neighborhood and see the trash and destruction from the flooding still there, four months later.”
The resident, who did not want to be identified, said her family feels the delayed cleanup has changed what was once a “quaint” neighborhood. “We discourage our son from spending time at the field because of the oil spill and trash," she said. "The field was a sheen of black for the first 2 months after the storm and if you look closely, you can still see the patches where the oil was,” she said.
The resident said some of the larger pieces of debris from the park were removed after she called Laforet to raise her concerns about the area. She said the township has been helpful, but she wishes there were a quicker way to get the park back in working order.
Her suggestion is to ask the residents of the area to pitch in. “Instead of waiting so trucks can be driven onto the field, I would love to see the town bring in a large dumpster in the upcoming weeks and put out a call for volunteers to get the debris out,” she said. “Why not take an all hands approach and move everything off the field?”
Do you agree? Is that the best way to clean up the park? Tell us in the comments.