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Committee takes no action on street sweeper purchase

WILLMAR -- Two Willmar City Council members say they want more information before they decide whether to support a request to buy a second street sweeper for the Public Works Department.

City officials say a second sweeper would help the city comply with a state pollution control requirement to reduce the amount of sediment, leaves and other materials entering storm sewers.

Council member Ron Christianson said he wants a written comparison of the cost of a new sweeper and the cost of renting a sweeper from a private contractor.

"I'd like to see something in writing,'' he said during discussion at a Tuesday meeting of the council's Public Works/Safety Committee. "It doesn't mean that I'm against it, but it would ease my mind.''

Committee Chairman Doug Reese and committee member Bruce DeBlieck voted in favor of recommending the council buy a $172,050 Elgin vacuum sweeper through a state of Minnesota contract. The contract expires April 30, 2010.

Jim Dokken abstained, saying he didn't have enough information to make a decision.

Reese said the matter will go to the council at Monday's meeting without a recommendation.

The possibility of buying the sweeper has been discussed for some time.

Willmar, with a population of more than 18,300, is among cities with a population greater than 10,000 required to obtain a storm water pollution prevention permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The permit requires cities to reduce or eliminate sediment and other pollutants from lakes, rivers and wetlands.

Assistant City Engineer Holly Wilson said the city has written in the storm water pollution prevention program that it will increase the amount of material removed from streets. The program does not say the city will buy another sweeper, Wilson said. But she said increased removal is best done with another sweeper or paying overtime for sweeping.

Scott Ledeboer, Public Works foreman, said sweeping takes place from mid-March to mid-November. The 2005 Elgin sweeper removes approximately 1,900 cubic yards of material a year from 130 miles of city streets.

The sweeper is accompanied by a dump truck. The truck hauls sand to the Kandiyohi County Landfill for use as temporary cover. Leaves are hauled to the city brush site.

The current sweeper is scheduled to be replaced in 2013, Ledeboer said.

The proposed sweeper is mounted on a truck chassis, would not need a truck for hauling, and holds 8 cubic yards compared with 3.6 cubic yards on the current machine.

He said the new machine would be capable of picking up fine dust materials to reduce storm water pollution.

Wilson said the additional sweeper would help the city cover streets more often and remove more material.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150