Wood waste pickup a costly proposition, city officials say

Andrew Conklin cleans up branches from a tree damaged in
a June 14 storm Sunday afternoon at Fifth Street and West
Lawn Avenue.

City wood debris cleanup efforts triggered by a series of significant area storms in 2014 have proven both costly and time-consuming.

Joe Patterson, city administrator, said pickup efforts following the most recent storm in August cost the city an estimated $180,000 alone in manpower, equipment, and landfill expenses. There have been four such instances this year when city resources were utilized to collect fallen tree debris from residences, including three storms that tore through the area in June and August.

Performing these services required diverting street department and city parks and recreation staff members from their usual maintenance duties, such as street repairs, grass mowing and other seasonal upkeep. Adding to the workload were abuses by those who tossed shrubs and other yard debris together with their fallen limbs to be removed.

Such abuses — which also included disposing of downed tree limbs on city property — could compromise the city's ability to respond to such widespread tree debris cleanup efforts in the future.

"It's frustrating when people drag their brush over and throw it onto one of our public parks, out in the street, or onto public property somewhere," Patterson said. "That's littering, and it is against the law. Trees that are on public property — which is considered the front terrace — we'll deal with as we have resources to do so.

To read more, see Saturday's Hastings Tribune or the Tribune e-edition.>>

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