Township experiences major snow removal issues
By Dana Casadei
While there was only one public comment about how disastrous the snow removal was over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees had plenty to say, starting with supervisor Dani Walsh, who came prepared with a statement at their meeting on Monday, January 22.
“I’ve been here 51 years, I never left, this is my home, and I’ve also never seen the county’s response to this issue be so bad,” Walsh said.
So, what caused the havoc, and led to major roads in Bloomfield Township being buried under snow and ice for days?
According to Walsh, unfamiliar dispatchers and equipment breakdowns.
Over the course of Friday and Saturday, Bloomfield Township police called the Road Commission of Oakland County (RCOC) over 40 times to say that they were ready to help with the snow and ice removal from the quadrant on 14 Mile to Long Lake Road, Quarton to Lahser.
But the new dispatchers were unfamiliar with the fact that Bloomfield Township is the only township in the state who could legally step up and help because they’re the only township with a road department, but said they weren’t legally allowed to help.
The RCOC didn’t give the township permission to do anything about the snow and ice removal on those county roads until Monday, long after the winter storm had left its havoc.
Since that weekend, Walsh said she has spoken with the RCOC, who has mixed up the dispatchers so all of the new ones aren’t in the same area, and given Bloomfield Township permission to call them directly should something like this happen again, instead of going through the dispatchers.
While Walsh has confidence that with these changes nothing like this will happen again, others highly disagreed, notably trustee Neal Barnett.
“This is the worse I’ve ever seen, and I received the most complaints I’ve ever gotten from residents,” Barnett said. “This was poor leadership from RCOC and a huge safety issue for something we all knew was coming.”
Barnett didn’t think the RCOC was the only one who handled this poorly, but the township as well. He noted that previous township supervisors had taken control of the situation and enlisted the township's road department, and done it legally, without excuses.
The RCOC did also have issues with four other surrounding areas that weekend due to low staffing and equipment issues.
Since that weekend the RCOC has taken responsibility for what one township resident called “a colossal failure,” and broadcasted a statement indicating the fault laid with their Waterford garage.
The lone bright spot in all of this was the work of the department of public works, which was able to clear 50 of the trees that fell on county roads and cleared all of the neighborhood roads – which the township can do because of their agreement with the RCOC – leading to more neighborhood roads clear than the county roads over the weekend.