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Long IslandTowns

With spring weeks away, some towns facing shortages of critical road salt

Town of Brookhaven plow and salt spreader on

Town of Brookhaven plow and salt spreader on Railroad Ave. in Ronkonkoma during snowfall Tuesday morning, Feb. 17, 2015. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Highway chiefs in some towns Wednesday said they were running short of critical road-salt supplies as yet another winter storm was set to hit Long Island.

As the National Weather Service forecast up to 8 inches of snow for Wednesday night and Thursday, officials in Brookhaven, Southampton and Huntington said they may not have enough salt to combat the snow, slush and ice.

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro said he received 240 tons of salt Wednesday from a Staten Island supplier, Atlantic Salt -- far short of the 2,000 tons he said he needs.

"We will make it through tonight, but it's not ideal. I'm going to have to mix much more sand with that salt than I would prefer," he said in a telephone interview. "There are areas that, if I had my druthers, I would just use salt to break up that ice. . . . I will not have that luxury."

Brookhaven and Huntington, like many Long Island municipalities, obtain most of their salt through a contract with the state Office of General Services, for a flat rate of $65 per ton. Many towns complained last year of similar shortages.

Town officials in Babylon, Hempstead, Islip, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay said Wednesday they had sufficient supplies. Glen Cove Department of Public Works general foreman Manny Grella said he had "enough for this storm coming. Anything after that, I would have to order more."

Heather Groll, an Office of General Services spokeswoman, said in an email that this year's storms were "unprecedented, which has made salt distribution a challenge."

"Our goal is to ensure that no one runs out and those who need it most are getting it as fast as possible," Groll said. "We will continue working as a team to get the salt to the communities where it is needed."

Huntington Highway Superintendent Pete Gunther said his last delivery from Atlantic Salt was Saturday, and he had a fraction of the salt needed for Thursday's storm. Atlantic Salt officials did not return calls for comment.

"These guys have everyone handcuffed on Long Island," Gunther said. "They keep telling me they can't serve everybody. It's a state contract, they have to abide by it, they have to fulfill their end and that means supplying to everybody. If they can't do it, then tell me where to go to get it."

Losquadro said he may ditch the state contract next year and switch to private suppliers, perhaps in conjunction with other Long Island towns. He said he tried buying salt yesterday from a Connecticut supplier, but the price was too steep -- about $185 per ton.

"Obviously, municipalities can't get into bidding wars," he said. "It wouldn't be in the best interests of the taxpayers, either."

With John Asbury, Sophia Chang, Scott Eidler, Will James, Deborah S. Morris, Ted Phillips, Denise M. Bonilla and Mackenzie Rigg

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