City gears up for leaf cleanup

Katy Brown

It’s officially fall and while the leaves begin to fall, Kent city workers are busy preparing for their citywide leaf clean up. Kent’s facilities manager, Gerald Shanley, said the rate of which the leaves are falling this year set the city crews up for a good head start.

“They’re falling a little bit quicker than they did last year … it’s a good thing,” Shanley said, “So when we start our program we don’t have any slow time where we’re actually out picking up leaves and that’s by volume and that’s a good thing for us.”

Starting October 31st, Kent city workers will begin the five-week leaf cleanup. Even a few extra pairs of hands have been employed for the project. These temporary workers were brought in to man the equipment, having them rake and use a suction tube to suck up the leaves residents set out. The more hands on deck, the faster the cleanup.

“Residents are required to put the leaves out to the curb you know to the start of the program and we just continue through the sections through Kent until we’re done,” Shanley said.

More than 15,000 cubic yards of leaves were collected and the cleanup cost the city’s tax payers over $40,000, which is down from 2008’s total of over $50,000 spent on the program. Shanley said extending the mowing season could reduce both those numbers.

“We encourage residents to extend their mowing season and mulch their leaves up into their turf,” Shanley said, “I tell residents…they’re spending thousands of dollars every year for fertilizer and in the fall your taking all that money and putting it out for us to pick up.”

As Shanley said, most residents put their leaves to the curb. But because Kent is a college town, which welcomes a lot of on street parking, the city sometimes runs into problems. The city asks Kent residents to avoid parking in front of leaf piles once the cleanup beings later this month.

“What happens with that is we’ll be at a section and we’ll go down and there’s three or four cars parked in front of leaf piles, we [have to] skip that,” Shanley said, “then the cars leave and that person’s calling [the city] and saying ‘Hey you didn’t get my leaves.’ We end up either having to ticket, or tow, and we don’t want to do that.”