Meadville Tribune

Local News

October 10, 2013

With new vacuum leaf loader in tow, Meadville prepares for leaf pickup program

MEADVILLE — The City of Meadville’s new vacuum leaf loader — known to municipal insiders as “the leaf trailer” — is about to take to the streets in search of its very first leaf.

For city residents, Monday marks the beginning of the city’s annual leaf pickup program. Through Dec. 11, the new leaf trailer, a distinctive green in color, will make two separate rounds of city streets. The first complete round, which begins Monday, will continue through Oct. 29. The second complete round begins Nov. 4 and continues through Dec. 11. All dates are subject to change due to weather.

The map and schedule published in today’s paper are also available on the city’s website,

To allow city workers to make the most efficient use of the large vacuum system, fallen leaves should be raked to the curb — but not over the edge and into the street if possible. City crews understand if leaves do go into the street along the curb and they will be removed. If there’s no curb, leaves should be raked into the ditch along the edge of the road.

The vacuum loader mulches as it goes, drawing leaves into the system and leaving them compacted and ready for composting. However, it’s designed to pick up only loose leaves. Other stuff, especially sticks, will plug the machine and bring the entire collection process to a halt.

Fortunately for city residents, much of that other stuff — sticks, branches, tree limbs less than 4 inches in diameter, small brush, plants, flowers, roots, shrubs, prunings and sawdust, to be exact — is classified as yard waste, which is collected as part of the city’s refuse and recycling program every other week from April through November in accordance with the city’s annual refuse and recycling schedule.

Remaining yard waste collections in 2013 are scheduled for the weeks beginning Oct. 21, Nov. 4 and Nov. 18. Yard waste will be picked up only in biodegradable paper bags available at several local retail establishments or paper grocery bags. All bags must be taped or tied shut to prevent spillage.

In addition, residents choosing to not rake their leaves to the curb can call 724-6054 to arrange to have leaves bagged in biodegradable paper bags collected by the city’s streets department.

Let the stormwater flow

While curbside leaf pickup may at first glance appear to be a slightly extravagant residential perk, it is in fact a key element of the city’s stormwater management program.

“Picking up loose leaves is not necessarily a convenience to residents,” Assistant City Manager Andy Walker said during a recent interview. “The purpose is to get them off the street and out of the stormwater system.”

That’s why the new leaf trailer was purchased with $32,500 in funds collected through the city’s new stormwater management program, leaving the city with two retired leaf trailers to be used as backup.

From the city’s perspective, leaf collection is time consuming, labor intensive and weather sensitive.

“This requires an extensive amount of manpower,” Walker said of the program. “Citizens must follow the published schedule and have their leaves raked to the curb by the evening before the pickup is scheduled if they expect them to be picked up,” he added. “Secondary pickups — other than the second round of pickups on the leaf map and schedule — are not guaranteed.”

Because of the devastating impact leaves in the wrong place can have by preventing water from running off the street during a heavy rain, Walker asks residents to not rake leaves to the curb more than a day ahead of the scheduled pickup day.

“It will also be helpful if people remove the debris if they see leaves obstructing a catch basin or stormwater grate during a rain event,” Walker said.

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