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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter
As seen in March, it’s not uncommon for New England to receive snowstorm after snowstorm. While playing out in the snow, shoveling driveways, and brushing off our cars, we see plows clearing the streets of snow and often hear them continuing to keep the roads safe throughout the night.
In Westwood, we can thank the Department of Public Works (DPW) for ensuring that the snow is taken care of.
As we head into the warmer months, though, the DPW’s work is far from over. While dealing with the elements in the winter, the DPW administration was also planning for the year’s new projects. Todd Korchin, director of Public Works, explains that he, Assistant Director Brendan Ryan, and the DPW employees stay busy year-round.
“Our staff in general just goes nonstop with these various projects all year long in the spring, summer, and fall months. Then, they go and deal and cope with elements of nor’easters,” said Korchin, who began his work with the DPW 17 years ago as a heavy equipment operator.
“Sometimes, I think sometimes people perceive it as that we’re just the guys who go out and plow, we’re the guys who go out and make sure the roads are clear, but it’s important to see that this goes on for 356 days a year.”
While the DPW addresses issues within the town all year long, their projects are usually categorized by season.
In the spring, the DPW staff spends countless hours beautifying the town.
“We make sure every corner, every island, and every athletic field is spotless and immaculate, and just essentially, ready for the community to enjoy during the spring, summer, and fall months,” Korchin said.
The DPW is responsible for all of the street and athletic field maintenance, which means the team is constantly sweeping roadways, cutting back brush where it’s necessary, and keeping the fields perfectly manicured.
After July 4, the DPW begins their heavy-duty construction projects – such as paving roads – and usually finishes early in August.
At the end of the summer, they begin doing fall cleanup, which includes ongoing maintenance and ongoing tree work. Throughout the fall, the DPW cleans over 2,200 catch basins in town and prepares the athletic fields for fall sports and for the winter season.
Year round, though, the team is maintaining the town’s sewer infrastructure and ensures that it is running efficiently on a day-to-day basis. They are responsible for the town’s cemeteries, streetlights, trash, and recycling.
Each year, Trish Healy and Tom Philbin ensure that the Greens Community Grant is completed and submitted on time, which helps to lower municipal energy use.
“Each and every one of our staff members – from an administrative standpoint all the way to our heavy equipment operators and laborers – is something special and they do a great job in dealing with what they have to deal with,” he said. “When they’re called upon to make sure that the town is safe, they step up and they do a great job.”