Autumn may be about to end. However, signs of the season are still present in the piles of leaves found in the majority of the township, and one resident feels the process is moving too slow.
Interim township manager Katherine Burger said the township has completed leaf collection in zones three and four. Collection in zone five began on Dec. 17 and will progress to zones one and two shortly afterward.
Burger originally set a date of Jan. 1 to complete one round of leaf collection in all five zones. However, at last night’s council meeting, she wasn’t sure if the township would be able to meet the deadline.
“We’re still pushing for that one time around the first of the year, but due to the volume of leaves, I just don’t know if it’s possible,” she said.
Leaf collection is not happening fast enough for resident Tom Snyder. Speaking to council in November, he was worried the collection won’t be completed prior to the first snowstorm of the year.
“Last year, when the snow plows came through, they piled up about six-foot high drifts and leaves probably constituted half of those,” he said.
Snyder’s suggestion to council was to have the township increase the amount of resources it has going toward leaf pickup.
“I think the way to approach it is to go more intensive,” he said. “Instead of four trucks for 10 weeks, how about 10 trucks for four weeks? If you have to contract it out, contract it out.”
Medford Township previously contracted out leaf collection in 2008 and 2009, but ended the contract because of a number of issues. Burger said a major concern about hiring an outside company for leaf collection is the high cost.
“When we did contract out, we paid more than $400,000 in leaf collection,” Burger said. “That’s not in the budget.”
Mayor Chris Buoni also said hiring an outside company may not be the best solution. However, he agreed with Snyder, saying the leaf program needs to be made more efficient.
“We’re looking for a good, long-term solution,” Buoni said. “We would prefer for of a solution where we handle it in-house. We have the people there, we just have to figure out how to handle the township’s priorities.”
Buoni said township personnel hope to have all leaves picked up prior to the first substantial snowfall of the year. Last year’s collection had to stop early in the winter because of the amount of snow hitting the region early in the year.
Last year, the township experimented with new trucks designed to pick up leaves faster and with fewer personnel. However, Buoni said council had some concerns and opted not to purchase any of the trucks. The township instead decided to invest in brine equipment to improve its road treatment prior to snowstorms. The brine equipment is expected to be used this winter for the first time.
In the meantime, township public works is moving as fast as possible with the leaf pickup. Burger said the township has assigned one of its four crews to work on Saturdays and crews are staying out later during the week to try to speed up the process.
Burger also warned residents to not have leaves in the street. She said there have been complaints about leaves spilling into the roadway and clogging up storm drains.
“The police have been told to go and cite if they have to,” she said. “You can’t impede traffic.”