Lavallette officials said that after two years of waiting on assembly, its two new garbage trucks are nearly ready to undergo their transitions into service.
One of the two trucks, Mayor Walter LaCicero said, has already been delivered to a garage in Jackson, where it will remain until it is sent out to a new facility where its compactor and other similar controls will be added.
“One of the trucks is in Jackson awaiting our inspection,” said LaCicero. “We have to inspect the vehicle and makes sure it meets the specs and make sure that everything is okay. At that point it will be shipped from the Jackson facility to the packer facility.”
The borough council bonded the cost of the two trucks in its annual capital budget in 2022, replacing trucks that are currently about 25-years-old, and bonded the cost of the compactors the next in order to soften upgrade cost. The decision came after three of the borough’s garbage trucks broke down in the span of a week, necessitating the borough to use its recycling trucks for normal trash pickup. Those trucks – as well as some of the regular garbage trucks – are prone to leaking, especially after commercial pickups, which has generated some complaints from residents. The new trucks should put a stop of the vast majority of “leaks” while the recycling trucks will be disposed of, potentially at a surplus auction.
“They’re expecting the second chassis this week,” LaCicero said. “It’s been a long process, we’re anxiously awaiting them. Now the ones that are on the road can become the recycling trucks.”
After the inspection, the trucks will head to a local facility where they will be outfitted with their compactors, culminating in an important – but, of course, a bit humorous – addition to the borough fleet.
“Now they will go to the packer company who will install those pieces and we can finally pick up our two, new sparkling garbage trucks,” LaCicero said with a smile.
Borough officials and residents have occasionally debated whether to adopt a “tipper” system for its trash collection, similar to what many colloquially call “robo-cans.” Under a tipper system, an “arm” could be retrofitted onto the new trucks to allow a public works employee to automatically dump a uniform-style can into the compactor and place it back down in the street. Such a system would cost about $135,000 to issue each home in town with one large can, and about $44,000 per tipper arm.
The council never reached a consensus on the issue, seemingly with an equal percentage of officials and residents supporting and opposing the change. Many argued that the tipper system would eliminate the practice of some visitors or part-time residents leaving garbage in bags out on the street, allowing gulls to break through and leaving trash strewn about the street. Other residents, however, worried that the tipper cans would be too large and difficult to wheel out to the curb in stones, and in many cases would remain out on the street for a week until a part-time resident returned the following weekend.
“We consulted with DPW, and they consulted with Toms River who said they can be problematic” on the barrier island, the mayor said. “You have to wheel them out, and have someone wheel them back in because it would take forever for our employees to do that at every home in town.”
Should the majority opinion change, however, the two new trucks were built to specifications that would allow the addition of the tipper system to be added quickly and at a relatively low cost.
“If we change our minds, we can add the tipper at a minimal expense,” said LaCicero.
Lavallette will also begin requiring most commercial businesses in town to utilize private haulers for their trash pickup instead of the borough. These pickups will occur more often and even on an as-needed basis during the busiest weekends of the summer, ensuring there is no interruption to residential pickups and trucks are not loaded with commercial trash such as liquids or foodstuffs that often produce the “garbage juice” that generated complaints.
“That is really where the liquid issues are coming from,” said LaCicero, referring to the commercial pickups. “The new trucks should solve out part of the problem, and the new regulations should solve the other part of the problem.”
While there is no official timeline for when the compactors will be installed on the two new trucks, it is not expected to take a lengthy amount of time, and the trucks will most definitely be on the road in time for the busy summer season next year, officials said.