YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – WKBN 27 First News wanted to know how the Youngstown Street Department plans on dealing with the upcoming snow event. Last storm, the department was riddled with complaints from citizens for being slow and ineffective.
Still, Director of Public Works Chuck Shasho said they’re ready for the next storm.
He said they have 14 trucks ready to go for Wednesday’s snow and they’re expecting to add one more truck on Tuesday.
Shasho said the plan is to start with main roads, then get to the side streets.
Thirteen drivers will work the day shift and 12 will work midnights.
Youngstown Street Department employees say about half of the trucks that plow the city’s streets are more than 20 years old. When something cracks, leaks or breaks, it’s usually fixed in-house.
During the last snow event, the street department started with 13 trucks. By the time it ended, the department had eight trucks out on the road because five broke down.
Last month, Jim Mamonis — a street department worker for over three decades — spoke up in a meeting, saying they’re doing the best they can with failing equipment.
“I’ve seen for myself,” said First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver. “The salt beds need to be replaced. The mechanisms that bring them up are cracked and broken. Those trucks go through so much battering and abuse out there on the street, there was one that the whole front plow axle was just actually knocked off.”
Shasho said he can’t guarantee the trucks won’t break down this time, either.
“It’s difficult to say. We go over them and sometimes some welds break, sometimes some of the plows need some work or sometimes there are major mechanical failures. The ages that these vehicles are, you just really never know.”
He said many of the vehicles in their fleet are over a decade old and that the department is forced to work within the budget they’re given, which doesn’t afford them new trucks.
Oliver said during the last big snow, he got several complaints from his constituents about their streets not being plowed. He thinks the street department needs a bigger budget — even if that means cutting down funds to other departments.
He said even with a talented mechanic, repairs are just a band-aid fix.
“The monies need to be put to where they’re most important and right now, the street department definitely needs help.”
Oliver also said the department is lacking leadership. Sean McKinney headed the buildings and grounds department, which oversees snow plowing, but he resigned to run for mayor. No one has taken his place.
“I think you can definitely see the difference with him not being there this year and I think that’s a position that needs to be filled quite quickly,” Oliver said.
Oliver said he expects Mayor Tito Brown to get involved in the street department issue and find a leader for the buildings and grounds department as soon as possible.