Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 7, 2014

City to pay $20K for brush removal

TAHLEQUAH — City coffers will take up to a $20,000 hit to allow for the removal of a large pile of brush being stored behind the street department headquarters.

Councilors approved of the expense Monday night.

“The [Department of Environmental Quality] has approved a certain amount of brush to be stockpiled behind the street department, and apparently we are quickly approaching our limit,” Ward 1 Councilor Diane Weston said.

Weston said concerns linger about the possibility of being fined if the brush is not removed.

A private contractor from Grove has offered to take the job.

Mayor Jason Nichols said the large remnants of trees are a result of the city’s giving citizens time to adjust to new brush pick-up policies, which limit the size and amount that street department crews will haul away.

“We’ve just been trying to ease into it,” Nichols said. “At some point, we’re going to have to get serious about the rules or something.”

Street Commissioner Mike Corn said the pile initially began to accumulate when the city’s wood chipper broke down last year. Later, some residents noticed the pile and began hauling their debris to the site.

“It’s a problem,” Corn said. “We need more PR on [the city’s new brush pick-up policies]. We sent it through the utility office, we had a brochure drawn up. Everybody’s got it, but nobody’s paying attention. It’s making the town look shabby.”

Corn said the only brush the street department will pick up now is what fits into the chipper.

“That’s it, period,” he said.

Councilors agreed to have the brush removed through a private contractor, but Nichols urged councilors to discuss a way to prevent the expense in the future.

“It’s probably a good one-time thing,” said Nichols.

Ward 4 Councilor Linda Spyres suggested the city adhere to its pick-up policy and begin to leave behind the debris that does not fit. She also suggested leaving notes for property owners explaining why the brush was not taken.

“I’m up for it one time, but I’m not for it recurring,” Spyres said of the expense to remove the brush.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

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