Meadville’s Leaf Collection Goes Halfway | New

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Listen, down the street, is that a tanker? Is it a snow plow?

It’s a city of Meadville vacuum truck here to vacuum up leaves that have been responsibly picked up in piles carefully placed behind the sidewalk and not on the street.

Far from being as fast as a bullet at high speed, it is powerful, but not quite powerful. He is, however, able to jump – figuratively – from street to street, reducing the labor and time required to remove the leaves in the same way that he cuts those leaves into tiny pieces ready to be composted.

Meadville’s annual leaf collection odyssey has just passed the midpoint, city manager Maryann Menanno told city council on Wednesday.

The city’s two-truck vacuum squadron will continue for about two additional weeks, with each week devoted to about one-third of the city. Public Works crews completed their second round of leaf removal in the northwestern part of town on Friday, and next week they will tackle the northeastern section north of Randolph Street again and east of Park Avenue. The following week, the two vacuum trucks will head to the southern part of town below Randolph Street. Leaf collection in the area around Diamond Park and several blocks west is handled by a street sweeper.

“We are doing very well,” Public Works Director Nathan Zieziula said of the progress, “and we will continue. “

According to Zieziula, the key to efficient, if not superhero-level work, has been the performance of vacuum trucks added to the public works fleet since 2019, according to Zieziula.

“They are able to move a lot faster,” he explained. “One person in each truck is able to do the three things. “

When the process relied on a leaf vacuum trailer hooked up to a departmental dump truck, Zieziula continued, it took a driver, a vacuum operator manually operating the suction tube, and another person raking in the fields. pile of leaves towards the opening of the tube. The caravan crawled like an elephant walking backwards through the city streets, its hungry muzzle sniffing behind it the long rows of leaves.

The process was more taxing for the crew members, who had to alternate between the different positions because they were tired from the effort required. Now the truck driver can control the suction tube behind the wheel and newer trucks take care of almost all the effort

“These are great machines and work great for us,” Zieziula said.

Picking leaves is a real science, but the timing of the ritual remains an art.

On one side of perennial balance is the need to start rounds early: start too late and winter weather will bury the leaves to be picked up under too much snow for the process to continue.

On the other hand, the urge to start a little later in the fall, “fall” being the key word: start too early and most of the leaves to be collected will still be attached to the trees, just as inaccessible as if they were. were blanketed with snow.

This year’s balancing act has been a little too early so far.

“Obviously,” Zieziula said, “there are still a lot of leaves left.”

With plenty of fall color remaining, it’s possible, if not likely, that Public Works leaf vacuum trucks will continue after their two rounds of leaf pickup scheduled for a recall – a third round, according to Zieziula.

“We don’t officially release it because you never know how it’s going to be,” he said.

A major motivator behind the efforts, and behind the nearly $ 420,000 spent on vacuum trucks and related expenses in recent years, is the desire to keep leaves and other fall litter out of the water collection system. the city’s aging rainfalls. The importance of this goal was, in turn, a factor in the city’s ability to obtain state grants for approximately $ 378,000 of the cost.

For best results, residents raking leaves should also do their homework. It means raking leaves right behind the sidewalk, Zieziula said, not on the street. If the leaves are placed on the street while awaiting collection, there is a good chance that some, perhaps a lot, will end up in nearby sumps and storm drains, where they have a good chance of blocking those sewers. forcing stormwater into places that residents would prefer isn’t okay.

It’s about “keeping our storm drains clean,” Zieziula said.

The main downside, however, is that the familiar fear that leaves left piled up on the lawn behind the sidewalk will soon be forgotten and covered in snow until the spring thaw reveals unsightly soil, and then weeds where the grass was growing.

Zieziula acknowledged this concern, but held on, once again pointing to the new vacuum trucks as the answer.

“Ideally, we don’t want them to be on the streets,” he said. “We go our roads a lot faster to start, so they don’t stay there that long. “

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at [email protected]


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