Leaves pile up on Tryon streets

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Although they might have been hidden by snow and ice for the last few days, piles of leaves have been waiting for pickup for weeks on some Tryon streets. Residents may be asking when the town’s leaf pickup service is going to get to them.
Town officials can’t give residents an answer because the method the town is using for leaf pickup this year is taking more time than they had hoped.
The town’s leaf machine broke down about two years ago. Last year, the town’s plan to use Saluda’s machine didn’t work out because of scheduling conflicts.
This year the town is using a backhoe and truck to scoop the leaves, but the process is taking several men and a lot of hours.
“It’s going slower than we would like, but faster than last year,” Hembree said.
Sanitation supervisor Larry Walker said his crews have been working for three weeks or more on leaf collection and he has had as many as 15 people working on it at a time (including inmates).
As of last week, the town had picked up more than 800 bags of leaves. Just last Tuesday, Dec.  21, crews hauled 37 truckloads of leaves from Broadway Avenue alone. Walker also said it is costing about $150 per day to run three trucks for leaf collection.
“The problem is that they rake out the leaves, pick them up with a front loader and load them on a truck which can’t hold much,” said councilman Austin Chapman.
The town hauls the leaves to the sewer plant and also has to turn the leaf piles.
Tryon Town Council recently discussed leaf removal and how the service can be made better next year.
“We’ve got a problem with leaves,” said Mayor Alan Peoples. “We’ve gotten a B, C and D, but we’ve never gotten an A.”
Resident Howard Greene told council he had a leaf story for them. He said there were four men working hard at his house recently and it took them one hour just to pick up leaves on one side of his house.
“And they were working,” Greene said.
It took just 40 minutes last year with a leaf machine to go to the top of the hill, Greene said.
“And this time there was still a mess in the road,” Greene said. “They did the best they could. They just can’t do it picking them up like that.”
Councilman Roy Miller said before the town got the leaf machine, leaves were collected with a backhoe and the process was completed in a month.
“There are certain areas that haven’t been touched,” said Miller. “And it started two months ago.”
Walker responded that 20 years ago he doesn’t believe as many people were putting leaves out for the town to pick up, but Miller argued that there are also a lot of people now bagging leaves.
“If we don’t provide them a tool to do it efficiently, then we’re wasting money,” said Chapman.
“We’ve been battling this leaf thing just like the parking thing,” Miller said. “There’s no easy answer.”
A new leaf machine will cost the town about $30,000, according to quotes from 2009 discussed at last week’s meeting.
Hembree said he knows of other places that give two times for leaf pickup, and residents have to bag their leaves at all other times.
He said he will look into leaf machines and the financial impact for next year as well as the possibility of partnering with another town.
In the meantime, he said, crews will keep working at it.

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