Leaf collection under way

Leaves were piling up along Fourth Street as Joe Hammond, leaf blower in hand and power pack strapped to his back, tried to keep up with piles of the falling vegetation in front of The Castle museum Wednesday afternoon.

“I saw the city’s leaf machine driving past this week and thought we’d better get these leaves out to the curb,” he said.

Marietta’s annual leaf pickup program officially started Monday as city crews began sweeping up some of the larger piles of leaves along Front, Second and Third streets. But the program begins in earnest next Tuesday, according to streets superintendent Todd Stockel.

“So far we’ve just been hitting the bigger piles in those areas, but on Tuesday, weather permitting, our crews will start working southbound on Front Street from Marion Street to Putnam, then turn northbound onto Second Street and work back to Marion,” he said.

Crews will work both sides of those streets next week and move on to Third and Fourth streets, Stockel said, noting that “No Parking” signs will be posted ahead of time on streets slated for pickup by the city’s leaf vacuum machines.

He said a crew will simultaneously begin working on Gilman, Franklin and Harmar streets in the Harmar area Tuesday.

“It’s all weather-related, but we’re hoping to have leaf pickup wrapped up by Dec. 20,” Stockel said.

City safety-service director Jonathan Hupp reminds residents to only rake their leaves to the curb, not into the streets, where the leaf machine and crews can access them.

He explained that leaves in the streets eventually wash into storm drains, clogging the city’s stormwater drainage system.

“Citizens can also bag their leaves and drop them off at four locations in the city,” Hupp said. “There are drop off points at Lookout Park, Indian Acres Park, Buckeye Park and Greenleaf Landscaping on Muskingum Drive.”

He said bagging leaves and hauling them to Greenleaf Landscaping is a big help for city crews who are already challenged with removing the overabundance of leaves throughout the city.

Leaves are hauled to Greenleaf where residents register their loads, then dump the vegetation at a nearby collection site, all free of charge to folks who live within the city.

Hupp added that the bagged leaves drop off locations at the three city parks is a special service provided by the city, noting in the past some people have dropped off bags of trash, sticks or tree limbs, which can damage equipment when crews empty bags into the leaf machine.

“If the machine is damaged we can’t provide leaf pickup,” he said. “This service is being done as a courtesy to residents, and if it’s abused we won’t continue to provide that service.”