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Wednesday, July 11, 2007 09:08 pm

Piling up

Alderman says public works isn’t removing yard waste fast enough

Tree limbs and other yard waste have accumulated in Sherwood for weeks.
Untitled Document On a recent July afternoon, piles of tree branches towered high above streets and street corners in the Sherwood subdivision — in one case, the limbs had nearly conquered an intersection’s stop sign. Ward 7 Ald. Debbie Cimarossa says that this isn’t going to cut it. “It looked like there had been another storm,” Cimarossa says. “It looked bad.”
Cimarossa has received many complaints from Sherwood’s residents, who say that limbs sometimes sit for longer than a month before crews pick them up. After a visit to the neighborhood last week, Cimarossa brought the issue before the City Council and public-works director Mike Norris. “I almost witnessed two accidents when I was there,” Cimarossa told Norris. “I went up and talked to this guy, and his limbs have been sitting there about a month. They promised him they would get them yesterday. I’m not criticizing your staff, but don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
Norris acknowledged that the Sherwood subdivision is a problem area but said that there is no easy solution. “People are going to cut it when they’re going to cut it,” he said. “It becomes very problematic. People pile them on corners, where we have to go get them. We have to break normal routine to go get them because they cause traffic hazards.”
Between April and November, public-works crews sweep through quadrants of the city, picking up branches and yard waste. Norris says that they circle through neighborhoods every four to five weeks.
Todd Claycomb, a dispatcher with the Department of Public Works for 20 years, receives the most frequent complaints about branches and says that the problem is mostly a result of residents’ waiting to put their limbs out. “They see the trucks go down the street, and they drag stuff out behind them,” Claycomb says. “No one wants to sit them out and kill their grass, and I don’t blame them.”
In the past, aldermen have suggested putting signs up in neighborhoods, publicizing where public-works crews will be working on certain days. Others have suggested putting the schedule up on the public-works department’s Web site or sending the schedule to aldermen.
The city has dealt with the limb-pickup issue for a long time, says Cimarossa, and for her the solution seems simple: “It’s a double-edged sword, because we don’t have the staff. We need to make sure we give them the equipment and tools they need to get the job done — we need more communication and more education.”
In addition to the Web site, Cimarossa suggests using the public-works newsletter or its zone managers to spread the word on limb-pickup times. She also suggests using Springfield Green to focus more on limbs and the public-safety issues that result when they’re left on the streets. Claycomb agrees that better communication will help solve the problem: “If the public is more aware of how we’re doing it and where we’re at, it would benefit us and them.”  

Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.
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