In many ways, the 11 people working for South Brunswick Township’s Parks Division in New Jersey are like park employees anywhere.

Foreman Mark Langone, three equipment operators, and seven laborers maintain 239 acres of park, public buildings, and preserved open space in summer and plow eight miles of sidewalks in winter.

They support youth sports leagues by maintaining 33 baseball fields, including raking and pitcher’s mound construction, and 18 soccer fields. They provide traffic control, clean bathrooms, and repair benches and picnic tables for special events like Fourth of July fireworks, National Night Out/Community Unity Day, and Earth Day. They help the local food pantry move canned goods and other nonperishable donations.

But it was their response to Hurricane Sandy in fall 2012 that showed why the community of 43,000 residents consistently makes lists like CNNMoney’s Best Places to Live.

After helping the Road Division clear 144 miles of roads, the crew restored athletic facilities in time for the spring 2013 opening. Removing downed trees and repairing or replacing landscaping ultimately yielded 7,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris. Clean-up required overtime shifts funded by federal disaster relief (Visit here for more information).

“There was so much damage, the process took several months and required crews to work long hours,” says Public Works Director Raymond T. Olsen (Visit here to read how he evaluates grounds, parks, and roadside maintenance equipment). A longtime member of the American Public Works Association, he’s served the community for more than 46 years. “This department is comprised of 46 dedicated professionals who take pride in public service.”

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