The Minocqua Town Board will soon be considering options for the leaf disposal portion of its spring cleanup program.
Public works director Mark Pertile will have those options available for the town board to consider, possibly as soon as the regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Leaf disposal was discussed at length at the Dec. 3 town board meeting.
At the moment, leaves, needles and pine cones are to be bagged and ready — along with other “naturally occurring materials” — by 8 a.m. on May 20 as part of spring cleanup week.
Pertile told the town board at the Dec. 3 meeting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources won’t allow the plastic bags the leaves come in to be buried.
“They just keep piling up,” he said. “You get a clam truck or four or five dump truck loads of bagged leaves every year and it adds up pretty fast.”
Pertile said a lot of time is taken to go through each bag to make sure it doesn’t contain material such as household garbage and then cut it open to dump the leaves.
For the 2019 spring cleanup, he said inmates from the McNaughton Correctional Center were brought in for a day.
“There were some problems,” Pertile said. “It’s tedious, a lot of the bags are filled with dog feces, garbage and stuff to that extent and with the leaves.”
Consequently, because of what was encountered in the bags, Pertile was told by McNaughton officials the inmates wouldn’t be available for that work in the future.
“Nothing’s pleasant, but there’s some health risks involved, too,” he said, adding he was looking for guidance for the cleanup program in the spring of 2020.
Pertile’s recommendation was to have the town move away from the collection of not only leaves in bags, but leaves in general.
“People can bring them to our Kilawee dump site,” he said. “If they have them bagged, they can put them on a trailer or whatever and come and empty them at our site and then maybe we could to look at expanding some hours or something like that.”
Pertile stressed he believes dealing with the leaves was going to become more of a challenge.
“One yard will fill up a whole dump truck,” he said. “They’ll take a whole yard and it’ll be 50 or 60 bags of leaves.”
Overall, town board members indicated they understood the situation Pertile was in, but at the same time also expressed reluctance to do away with collecting leaves entirely.
“I think a lot of people really appreciate this service,” town supervisor Billy Fried said. “I don’t like the hassle you go through or the rising cost. The leaves is huge for a lot of people.”
By the end of the discussion, Pertile was directed to look into some different options to include availability of biodegradable trash bags and the possibility of renting a large vacuum machine.
The next day, Pertile told The Lakeland Times
revising the spring cleanup guidelines is something that’s been talked about for at least the past year and a half.
“We’ve been trying to curtail excessive amounts of materials from certain properties,” he said. “I think we’ve started to move in the right direction.”
As far as the leaves, the biggest challenge is the non-biodegradable trash bags they come in.
“Basically, those have to be handled more than twice,” Pertile said. “The board seems to want to continue to provide the service, which we’re fine with. It’s just trying to reduce the amount of labor involved.”
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]