Some answers about that leaf pick-up
Residents have been reading Gazette Sound Off calls criticizing the city of Janesville’s annual two-week leaf pick-up, which started Monday. Why do workers come before all the leaves fall? Why don’t they swap the first and last streets each year to make it fairer?
Well, I posed some of these questions and concerns in an email to the city Tuesday. That’s the day when crews collected leaves I piled in my street, even though one maple out front still had nearly half its leaves. Here are the questions and the responses from Cullen Slapak, assistant parks director, who told me the parks division has been supervising the collection process as part of the storm water utility budget since 2009.
Q: Why can't the city reverse the pickup schedule so the first are last every other year?
A: It’s not that the schedule can’t be reversed, but historically it has been easier for residents to become accustomed to a certain day during the collection, rather than changing every year. We’ve had residents comment that they like knowing their day is the same each year.
Q: Does this two-week pickup schedule somehow need to go now rather than wait for more leaves to fall because of the shortened Thanksgiving holiday week and the later schedule for yard waste pickup? Didn't the city have to cancel the yard waste pickup one recent year because of snowfall?
A: Historically, this two-week process has worked out well for collecting the majority of leaves throughout the city. The collection process was delayed in 2007 due to very mild conditions and minimal leaf drop. The city attempts to complete leaf collection before Thanksgiving week due to needing the equipment and staff for garbage pick-up the day after Thanksgiving. The same trash trucks used in leaf collection are also used during double trash routes after holidays. Extending leaf collection later into November can result in freezing temperatures and a higher possibility of snow occurring. If freezing occurs, the leaves would stick to the street and curbs and would probably be left on the street for the winter. If a snow event occurred that required plowing, the leaves would be pushed back onto the terrace and buried under the snow.
Q: Do vacations for these workers surrounding deer hunting season play a role in the timing of the leaf pickup?
A: No, deer hunting doesn’t affect the timing of leaf collection. Not everyone deer hunts. If staff were needed for a city function, days off requests would be denied to complete tasks.
Q: What would happen if we get a tremendous wind that blows leaves all over the place? I recall one that occurred the day before the pick-up on my street, and workers were there early, despite the fact all my leaves went from the street to the backyard the previous day/evening. Why can't the schedule be altered after such a windstorm?
A: Hard to say, it would depend on the situation. Chances are crews would continue with the collection and conditions would be monitored for effectiveness. There is a bagged yard waste collection the week after Thanksgiving for residents to remove any leaves that may have been left.
If the windstorm were so tremendous that downed trees were throughout the city, crews may have to be diverted to deal with storm cleanup and resume the collection process on the following days.
Readers, does this help you better understand the process? Do Slapak’s explanations sound reasonable?