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Port Chester Recruits Help from Rye Brook in its Snow-Fighting Efforts

Port Chester to start pre-treating its roads in preparation for snow storms, with Rye Brook using its existing equipment until Port Chester can get its own equipment.

With lessons learned from the big snow storm of Feb. 15 that dumped upwards of 20 inches of snow on Port Chester, the village is teaming up with neighbor Rye Brook to try a new snow-fighting effort to keep local roads clear.

The Port Chester village Board of Trustees on Tuesday night approved a measure that calls for having a Rye Brook village crew to use a brine solution to pre-treat key roads in Port Chester in preparation for significant snowfalls. The solution, used by many municipalities in Westchester, is credited with helping those communties clear their roads of snow and ice quicker in snow storms.

Port Chester Village Manager Christopher Steers said that with last night's approval, Port Chester can enter a temporary arrangement with Rye Brook so that key Port Chester roads will be treated by Rye Brook for the rest of the 2013 snow season. Steers said Port Chester is currently reviewing Rye Brook's road pre-treatment operation and that he is preparing a plan for implementing the same system in Port Chester.

Steers, based on information and the experience in Rye Brook, estimates Port Chester can update its snow-fighting operation to include a brine solution pre-treatment program for an estimated $4,000 to $10,000. With Rye Brook's assistance, Steers said the village has already started the pre-treatment effort with a Rye Brook crew having put down the brine solution on Friday in the face of another snow threat.

Port Chester starting looking at the pre-treatment process in the wake of difficulties the village DPW had in fighting the Feb. 15 storm, which started that Friday morning and dumped snow at a high-rate all through the day, that night and into the early-morning hours of Saturday, Feb. 16. Steers said the big storm exposed weaknesses in the village's snow-fighting system, much of it related to old equipment.

While the village had salt and fuel on-hand to fight the fast-falling snow, Steers said the aging DPW fleet had difficulty with the intense storm.

The village received numerous complaints from residents that weekend who questioned why Port Chester streets continued to have a coating of snow and ice when roads in neighboring communities, such as Rye Brook, were visibly different - the blacktop was black, not snowy or ice white. Steers called the brining solution used by other communities as their "secret weapon" to keeping the roads clear.

While the village took criticism, village officials also noted that many problem streets in Port Chester were made worse in the wake of the storm by residents who put snow that had covered their cars, sidewalks and driveways into the streets.

Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla said he believes that by starting the use of road pre-treatments before snow storms will actually lead to a cost savings for the village. He contends that Port Chester roads will take less time to plow and, in instances in which snowfalls do not go beyond three inches, the village could actually cut down on its need to plow.

After discussions with Rye Brook, Steers believes that once Port Chester obtains its own equipment for pre-treating roads, the village DPW crews could put down a layer of pre-treating solution in about four hours.

The system requires a portable tank that can be mounted on a heavy-duty pick up truck and a specialized spraying system. Steers said Port Chester will benefit from the experience of Rye Brook in implementing the system and he will be building the purchase of the necessary equipment in the village's new budget.

In a community that normally piles praise upon its DPW workers, some angry Port Chester residents were critical of the village's staff after the recent snow storm. However, residents attending Tuesday's Board of Trustees session commended the village DPW crews for their efforts. Village Board members also praised the DPW workers - who faced a 30-hour-straight effort to battle the snow storm.

"The heart and soul and dedication of our employees was there," Port Chester Trustee Bart Didden said.

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