John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back in Trash

The organized trash collection topic is back!  At last week's workshop we asked staff to put a resolution on our Feb. 28th agenda, calling for a public hearing at a future meeting (in March) prior to consideration of a Resolution of Intent to Organize.  It all seems convoluted, but the state law (which is pretty much designed to keep cities from organizing, despite the financial and environmental benefits) lays it out like this -- we have to follow these steps in order to try and develop a specific plan which we can then evaluate and vote up or down.

Today's Pioneer Press has a short article on the topic.  A week ago there was a piece in the Star Tribune as well.

As the topic heats up again, I've already gotten a couple of phone calls today and will no doubt hear more by phone and e-mail, mainly from angry anti-organization people.  Of course you're welcome to call and share your opinion, whatever it may be, but please remember that if my wife answers (the phone number on the city website is our home phone) and offers to take your number so I can call you back, it doesn't really help for you to yell at her and refuse to give any information on who you are or how to reach you.

For more details on the organized collection topic, you can follow the link for the Organized Collection tag on this blog.  Also, you can read the "John's Trash FAQ" that I wrote last fall when this topic was last making a stir.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

De-Icing Technology

The winter and all the snow that has been socking it to other parts of the country brought to mind one update the City Council received in early December about the benefits we're seeing from upgrading our technology and policies for dealing with the snowy-icy Maplewood streets this season.

To quote the staff report:

  1. In 2010 a total of $15,000 was invested to upgrade the fleet with the latest technology in salt/sand controllers/spreaders. This investment is proving to be well made with a $2,500. - $3,000 savings in materials for each 3” plowing event... and we should also see a savings during “deicing only” events. We are seeing a very quick pay back. 
  2. We have reduced materials used for deicing by about 50% per event compared to past years when the application rates were based only on operator judgment.
  3. We haven’t been receiving the calls to come back and reapply materials; this was a normal call in the past. This has also saved on the after hour and weekend call-outs.
  4. Trucks are able to stay out plowing on designated routes longer because there has been no need thus far to return to the shop for a second load of material... one load is now more than enough need to treat a route.
  5. Operator satisfaction since staff can actually see the deicing material working. The prescribed calibrated application rates result in using the salt most efficiently given a number of variables.
  6. The winter driving conditions have greatly improved on our roads, especially main roads.
  7. It has helped the Sewer Superintendent with training and tracking material usage by each operator.
What does this mean? It means a reduction in operating costs and a reduced impact to the environment by using less salt.

Saving money and reducing damage to the environment are good news any time, but especially in these days when we are always facing the balancing act between budgetary challenges and the need to take better care of our wetlands and waters.  Compliments are due to all the staff involved in acquiring and implementing this new technology.

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