Leaf-vacuuming program needs to be re-evaluated

We would say the city of Fairmont has a messy problem. Its leaf-vacuuming program ran into some snags this season, raising serious questions about its value.

The first snag may have been the City Council decision to have city crews only make one sweep through town.?If this had resulted in a flexible decision to conduct the leaf pickup at the most opportune time, one pass might have worked. But the pickup was scheduled for a specific window – Oct. 21 through Nov. 8. With leaves falling later in the season and some snowfall mucking things up, residents could not rake. They did later, meaning leaves now cover some boulevards, with property owners awaiting pickup, which is not coming.

The city chose to make a single pass through town in order to save some money. That’s fair enough. It is costly to commit the time and effort of city crews to this task. The leaf vacuum cannot handle the entire process on its own, forcing crews to use skid loaders and city trucks. So the costs pile up along with the leaves.

The leaf vacuum was billed as a nice service for residents, but it seems it has not lived up to its reputation in a number of ways. Either the city needs a more full-fledged program (another vacuum, more passes through town?) or it needs to consider whether an inflexible, half-hearted effort is really worth it. Residents raked and then hauled or burned their leaves for decades. Is it possible the city is just trying to do too much, and running headlong into Mother Nature and unexpected costs?