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Published: Thursday, 4/24/2003

Grachek rakes city over delayed leaf collection

Standing next to a pile of leaves carefully raked to the side of Woodley Road, city Councilman Ellen Grachek yesterday called on the city to speed up the leaf collection process.

Ms. Grachek, an appointed council member who is seeking election to the District 5 seat next month, said she has received many constituent complaints.

“No one holds the city responsible for the weather and no one holds the city responsible for early snowfall. We do, however, have every right to hold the city responsible for the sluggish pace at which they are addressing the problem,” Ms. Grachek said.

City officials said yesterday they are getting to the piles of leaves lining city streets and roads as fast as they can, given equipment breakdowns and the uncooperative weather.

Crews from the city's Division of Streets, Bridges, and Harbor crews will continue the spring cleanup today along curbed streets in ZIP Code 43614 and along uncurbed streets in ZIP Code 43623.

City officials asked residents not to place branches and debris in leaf piles because such objects will damage city equipment.

The city has collected leaves on curbed streets in ZIP Codes 43602, 43605, 43606, 43607, 43610 43613, 43620, 43623, and 43624, and on uncurbed streets in ZIP Code 43613.

Still incomplete are all the remaining uncurbed streets, and the curbed streets in 43604, 43608, 43609, 43611, 43612, 43614, and 43615.

Robert Reinbolt, the city's director of public service, said a little over half the city's fleet of 16 leaf machines have been in working order at any given time. He said the city has tried to borrow machines from other cities with little success.

Last month, council approved a new assessment of 32 cents per front footage to finance the purchase of 64 pieces of equipment, including leaf machines.

Mr. Reinbolt said the latest plan is to hire temporary workers to use Bobcat loaders to help collect leaves on uncurbed streets.

Winter came early in 2002, forcing the streets division to quit collecting leaves and start removing snow.

One result of the spring cleanup is that the volume of yard waste is much higher, Mr. Reinbolt said.

Noting that leaf pickup is paid for from assessments, and not from the cash-strapped general fund, Ms. Grachek said the administration should put temporary employees to work through the daylight hours, Monday through Saturday, until all the leaves are collected.

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