City plans no pickup of tree branches from yards

TIM JEAN/Staff photoA giant tree branch has fallen into the baseball dugout area at McNamara's Field in the 12th Avenue Playground.

Residents will get no help from the city removing trees and branches knocked down in their yards by the last storm.

But the city will provide  will have a place to dump the debris.

At last week's City Council meeting, Councilor Mary Ellen Daly-O'Brien said she has reached out to Public Works Director Michael Stankovich to ask what the Highway Department could do to help residents.

Stankovich said his crews are working six days a week to remove downed trees, limbs and branches from city properties and that he doesn't have the resources to help residents collect their tree debris for disposal. He said another four to six weeks are needed to complete the job.

Daly-O'Brien read a response from Stankovich, in which he told her the city's Highway Department yard on Primrose Street is accepting tree debris from residents, at no charge, on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m, until April 17. No leaves will be accepted during this period.

According to the mayor's office, as of April 17, a composting sticker/pass will be needed to dispose of leaves. As of April 18, a composting sticker/pass will also be needed to dispose of tree debris. Annual disposal permits are $45, or $30 for residents who are 65 or older. Day passes are $9 regardless of age.

Daly O'Brien said Stankovich indicated there isn't enough city staff or equipment — noting the city has only one chipper — to conduct a city-wide curbside collection of tree debris. He suggested residents look into hiring private tree/brush removal companies.

Daly O'Brien said she is concerned about elderly residents and even young people who may have limited income and can't afford to hire a tree/brush removal company.

"I was hoping we could have a curbside pickup," she said, suggesting it could be similar to curbside pickup for Christmas trees. "I'm not 100 percent happy with the answer, but I wanted it out there that this is what we can do and that the (highway) yard is open ... but that we're not in a position at this point to do curbside pickup."

Councilor William Macek suggested adding brush to the annual spring cleanup.

"That storm was like a hurricane or a tornado went through certain streets, and mine happened to be one of them," he said.

Councilor Michael McGonagle suggested sending a letter to the mayor, asking him to consider something like Macek suggested.

"I think it's a public safety concern and an aesthetic concern," McGonagle said, noting there are tree limbs and branches jutting out from private properties where children walk by on their way to and from school.

Drivers and pedestrians are having to swerve around tree limbs and branches sticking out from city properties as well, said Councilor Thomas Sullivan, who rattled off a list of streets where he said tree debris is in the way. His list included Amesbury Line Road, Salem Street, Boardman Street, Mill,Street and Crystal Lake Road.

"We need to somehow figure out how to clean up our own mess on public property," Sullivan said.

Macek wanted to make it clear that city workers cannot go onto private property to remove downed trees and tree debris.

"We can't do that for liability reasons," Macek said.


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