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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dusting up questions about Saratoga Springs Public Works services

Monday morning started with a clean sweep, literally. The Saratoga Spring city truck with the huge round brush swept along the curb of my street. It was before 8 a.m., and I was out raking and tromping on my newly reseeded strip of front lawn.

What I didn't understand was why another DPW truck, a small dump truck, was parked on the street with its motor running. Just as I decided to ask the driver what he was doing, the truck pulled away. A few minutes later, however, it was parked around the corner, and I could hear the motor. So, rake in hand, I decided to inquire.

A very polite and friendly fellow at the wheel explained that his job is to collect the dirt from the sweeper when the sweeper if full. He said he needs to keep the motor running so that his CB radio will be working when the sweeper driver needs to reach him.

I'm in favor of swept streets, but I've got to wonder: Is this always the way it's been done, and is it the best way? It clearly involves a lot of just sitting there. How much gas is used (not to mention the air pollution created) by the running motor? How often are all of the city streets swept? What does this and other DPW services cost?

These and similar questions are ones that DPW Commissioner Skip Scirocco should be prepared to spell out when the 2011 proposed city budget is presented on Oct. 5.

It was disconcerting to learn the other day that he says a lack of DPW staff prevents the city from having the front of the Canfield Casino in Congress Park swept on weekend mornings, even though smokers at night-time parties dump butts outside the building.

When and where to sweep (or do repairs, or pick up yard debris, and so on) are decisions that relate to human resources, management and priorities. There is no shortage of desired services.


Anonymous demroc said...

that's a pretty stupid question. yes that's the way it's always been done. it takes less money, to have the truck follow the street sweeper, then to constantly drive across town to meet it whenever it needs to dump, which is quite often. driving around the corner, is shorter. the lack of employees makes it harder for any organization to get things done these days. take for example a conversation i had with steve shoemaker. i asked him why the saratogian didn't monitor the comments before they got published. he said there weren't enough employees, to do it. so it seems a bit disingenuous now to bang others for something you hide behind.
and again, why did you never write about the gross over spending in previous dpw budgets? why not do editorials of how there were 50 more employees then were needed to clean the city? i assume that's because you felt they were needed, if not, you really dropped the ball at that point in time and don't have much complain about today. or if they were needed, then it would be understandable, that things will be different, services will be cut, and the spoiled people of saratoga will have to wait longer for things to get done, because a third of the workforce is now gone, just the same as the paper you work for. people are being pulled from other jobs, that need to get done to take care of some of these things, which means other things don't get done, like infrastructure work, and rec maintenence. so you'll have to sacrafice something along the line.

ps, the cigarette butts were dumped out of the container

October 6, 2010 at 6:27 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone think cutting the DPW $800,000 in 2011 is the solution they are crazy. Regardless of what some feel to be mismanagement and lack of follow-up how does making the situation worse solve the problem. The city is our product. If we allow the city to deteriorate we destroy the product. This isn't rocket science.

October 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM 

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