BOSCOBEL - Yard waste—grass clippings, downed tree branches, weeds, and brush trimmings. To most people, it’s a routine, even boring, part of maintaining their lawn. But for the city crew in the Boscobel street department, whose task it is to collect yard waste every month, it’s a major headache.
“We just can’t keep up,” Street Superintendent Luke Brown told the City Council at its meeting this week. “We’re short-handed and we’re getting behind. We’re always just chasing our tail.”
Brown said that in the past ten years, the volume of yard waste collected has increased by 18 dump-truck’s worth—while the street department crew has gone from five workers to four. Brown said the process of collecting waste and chipping branches takes up to 100 hours per month and prevents them from completing other tasks, like storm drain cleanouts.
The issue came before the council after some city residents expressed frustration about their yard being torn up by the skid steer used to collect lawn waste. Others complain that the grass clippings kill the grass where they sit.
“It’s not our intent to do damage, that’s for sure,” Director of Public Works/City Engineer Mike Reynolds told the council. “Our intent is to, as efficiently as possible, get through the city and get everything picked up in the least amount of time as possible. And it is a challenge.”
A related problem, according to Brown, is when residents pile the grass clippings in the gutter. If a heavy storm comes through, the grass clogs the storm drain and the street floods.
City Administrator Misty Molzof told the council that other municipalities in the district are struggling with the same issues, and some of them have eliminated curbside pickup.
“If we’re the only city that is providing this service, maybe we should be cutting that back,” said Alderman Roger Brown, who put the item on the agenda. Alderman Milt Cashman suggested a council committee take up the discussion.
A quick spot check from the Dial showed a variety of approaches in neighboring communities:
• Fennimore: Open dump site with pickup only by request for those unable to make it to the dump.
• Richland Center: Street department collects curbside once a month; must be in biodegradable bags or open containers.
• Muscoda: Dump site and monthly pick up.
• Lancaster: Dump site and monthly pickup.
• Mineral Point: Monthly pickup, no dump site.
• Dodgeville: Dump site and a seasonal pick up in the spring and fall.
• Viroqua: Dump site and weekly pickup on a designated route.
Lancaster has a five-man street department, and waste pickup usually takes one day, with all five employees using a bucket loader and skid steer to load up, according to Public Works Director John Hauth.
The city has a compost pile, which is regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. A subcontractor chips branches and a nearby organic farmer hauls the chips to his operation, Hauth said.
Boscobel’s council agreed to schedule a discussion of the issue at a meeting of the Improvements and Services committee, which Alderman Brown chairs, on September 7.
In other business, the council approved:
• Street closings for a “Trunk or Treat” event from La Belle to Oak on Wisconsin Avenue and a closure on Le Grand Street for a grand reopening block party for Willow and Ivy Design, The Energy Hut, and Tall Tails.
• Updating the city survey map to subdivide a city lot for sale on Cedar Road.• A payment to G-Pro of $90,044 for the streets improvement project.