Monday, February 8, 2010

Latest on the New Street Sweeping Program Coming This Spring

Coming soon to a street near you...a street sweeper for the West Ward this Spring!

Posted by: Noel Jones

Above is a map of the new street sweeping routes planned for this Spring--for an interactive view of this map that you can zoom in on, please check out Michael Duck's post on the Morning Call's blog, Valley 610. I'll take this opportunity to remind everyone that Valley 610 and other informative blogs are always linked on the side bar of this home page and I recommend that you check in on it from time to time. After the Morning Call staff was cut back drastically, Michael has continued to give the West Ward good coverage when he can, and often with a lot of great data attached. Please drop in on his blog and post comments on the articles that refer to our neighborhood, so that he knows how much we appreciate the coverage!

Michael Duck's Valley 610 Blog Article on the New Street Sweeper Coming This Spring

The really good news about this new street sweeping program is that it will come with
opposite-side-of-the-street parking, which is the only way a street sweeper can effectively get to the curb and get all of the trash out of the street. The hours will be scheduled only once a week from 8-11am, when the majority of cars are gone, making it really easy for those at home to re-park their cars. There will also be a "training period" of 30 days, for neighbors to get used to the new rules, when we will only get a warning, rather than a ticket, if we forget to move our cars. This sounds like a sensible program that is going to make a big difference in how our neighborhood looks--a visible sign of progress on a weekly basis.

One important thing to remember--we did not accomplish this through the help of any local nonprofit organization--we achieved this as independent residents pressuring the City steadily for a year and a half, through neighborhood meetings, city council meetings, town hall meetings, calls and emails,  and a meeting of a small group of residents with Public Works Director Dave Hopkins and Planning Director, Becky Bradley, facilitated by Councilwoman Elinor Warner, which eventually led to some creative refinancing on Mayor Panto's part to buy the new sweeper.

Please email or post your thanks to these officials for making it happen--and pat yourselves on the back as well for all those meetings you attended when you had a million other things you could have been doing. Persistence pays off!


Easton Heights Blogger said...

I'd like to point out that, if you live north of Wood, anywhere from 12th to 7th, jackson, Bushkill and Spring Garden, you are NOT getting your street swept. I emailed Dave hopkins on this and he confirmed it.
SO I just thanked Dave that I won't be getting parking tickets (of course, now w/ the snow, the chance of parking near my house is slim to none).

noel jones said...


I was thinking about your question this morning--it looks like residents North of Pearl Street aren't on the plan yet--are you North of Pearl? If not, then you're on the already existing program, according to the interactive map on Michael Duck's blog post.

Easton Heights Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Easton Heights Blogger said...

I checked the 'interactive map' and I see the 'existing route'; I'm not on that either. there is a big fat triangle of neighborhood north of wood that isn't/not going to be swept.

noel jones said...

It will take steady interaction and pressure on the City by residents in that triangle to make sure that the program expands. Perhaps you could get together with other residents in your area in an independent meeting, to organize some support...

The nonprofit orgs will not touch this issue, so don't bother. It has to be an independent effort by residents--that's how we got the expanded program so far. My guess is that there was a specific amount of money for the program to cover a certain number of man hours for whoever is driving the sweeper, and the cost for the sign installation needed, so this is the route they were able to come up with, without requiring overtime pay or more money for signs--but that's just a guess.

I would think though, that the effort should focus on asking the Mayor to do some more creative financing and find some for money so that everyone in the neighborhood can watch their tax money clean their streets.

Easton Heights Blogger said...

I've got mixed feelings on this; on one hand, I like to see the city doing things positive in my neighborhood, but on the other hand, I wonder if it makes much of a difference and if its worth the hassle.
I posted about this on my blog, and I got one response from a resident on Jackson who said he's glad his block is not covered. it's not worth the trouble to him.
for me, I already can't park near my home; there are so many overpacked apartments on my block w/ so many cars (all of whom, it seems, can't parallel park and take up 2 spots) that my family of FIVE w/ ONE car can't get a spot at all some nights.
I fought long and hard to get a streetlamp on my block (finally approved but not yet installed) because I felt that would really improve the quality of the block. streetsweeping would, IMO only really have an impact if people took care of their properties and broken down cars and put their garbage in cans (all issues I know you are concerned with as well).
so, for now, if I get it, fine. if not, well, that's what it is.

noel jones said...

EHB~i sympathize with the parking problem at night--it does get tight in the WW. but remember, the street sweeper only requires people to move their cars between 8-11am, so there should be plenty of spots on the street for re-parking, since a lot of people will be gone to work, shopping, running errands, etc., so i don't think it will make matters worse.

i know that in the previous program, which only cleaned three streets in the WW i believe, the sweeper would go down other streets if he finished early and had time. they came down S. 8th and Ferry Streets on occasion, the trouble is, without the parking rules, the cars aren't moved, and so the sweeper can't always get to the curb.

don't give up--it's so great that your efforts are paying on a street lamp for a formerly dark block, and with enough communication with the city, you might be able to convince them to find some other funds to extend the program farther into that area of the WW.

but you are right, code enforcement on residents who aren't properly packaging their garbage is a key part of the three-part garbage problem: 1) no street sweeper, 2) litter, and 3) lack of code enforcement with regard to packaging garbage.

however, our new code officer, diane reynolds sent out notices about a month ago, warning everyone that they are going to begin cracking down on improperly packaged garbage, so hopefully that's true, and we'll begin to see a difference!

Julie Zando-Dennis said...

This would be a good program to demonstrate create outreach in action. I suggest that the first week it is implemented, a citizen's group (I'll join!) should knock on doors and distribute flyers about the program, alerting residents that they must move their cars the following day. We can ask the Northampton County prison print shop to print free black and white flyers for us. This effort wouldn't be hard to do, and it would help prevent complaints about parking tickets.

This is an important program and we must ensure its success, as litter in the West Ward, blown by wind onto sidewalks, garden beds, curbs, and streets, is a huge problem that distracts from our quality of life. Good work activists and thank you Mayor for your support.

noel jones said...

Great idea, Julie!

Maybe we could draft the flyer to say both that people will need to move their cars AND start packaging their garbage properly--but most importantly, to get the point across IN PERSON that garbage has to be properly packaged (and explain how) or they or their landlords will get hit with a fine (and that if a landlord gets hit with a fine because a tenant didn't package properly, the tenant will probably either have to pay it, or lose their lease).

Easton Heights Blogger said...

maybe you could include something about how it's ILLEGAL to save parking spots w/ garbage cans! (or dining room chairs, saw horses, etc).
I can't STAND the Lehigh Valley 'tradition' of saving spots in the winter. that is one of the most selfish displays of entitlement I've seen.
one township, I forget which, one year picked up all the crap and brought it down to the city public works yard for people to claim.
one year someone had the gall to put a chair in a spot in front of my house, in a spot they didn't even shovel!
sorry for the rant, but this bugs me.

Tim Pickel said...

This is good for the West Ward. There will be minor problems at first, but it will all shake out for the best. I hope it gets the teachers to park in the provided parking lot in my neighborhood instead of on the street. One or two $20.00 tickets should be enough incentive.

noel jones said...

That addition is a good idea, EHB--I agree.

Anonymous said...

I saw the Letter to the Editor today from a WW resident criticizing the program and especially the mayor. Wasn't the city responding to requests of the neighbors? Wasn't the money appropriated by the mayor a large amount to give us city wide clean neighborhoods.

I wonder if anyone will write a response to this in the paper? I also wonder if the individual knows that the mayor included four weeks of warnings before tickets will be issued?

It was also interesting that on the same day the re is an article indicating the mayor's concerns about the program and his recommendation to move the starting time to 9 AM rather than 8AM in the hopes that more people will have left for work.

Life in Easton is always interesting that's for sure.

noel jones said...

Which paper was the letter in? I didn't see it in the ET, but I did see the article on the time change--that's great news--even more cars will be gone after 9am, so re-parking will be easy.

Apparently the city council meeting was moved because of snow yesterday to today at 5pm, when they will be introducing the time change and the voting on the program in general. Anyone supporting this new program should try to make it to speak up in support, in case there are parking complainers there. I swear, if someone is not working and cannot peel themselves off the couch and away from the TV long enough to move their car across the street so that we can have clean streets around here, then I have no sympathy. Some people like the idea of personal responsibility, and others don't. We made this street sweeping program happen and anyone proud of that--and who works on a flexible schedule that can make it at 5pm--should take a trip down the hill to city hall and say so. I'll see you there!

Personally, I can't wait to see that street sweeper scooping up the improperly-packaged garbage that gets blown around on garbage day. The mayor said in the paper that 80% of the routes will follow on garbage day--that's decent planning.

We on this blog can often criticize the mayor and the City in general when we don't think they're doing thing as well as they could, so it is also important to give them credit and show up to say thank you when they do something we've been asking for. Citizens Right To Be Heard is not just a forum for complaints--it's also a great time to show appreciation. This is something the mayor is doing right, especially with the decision to move the three-hour window to start at 9am.

noel jones said...

Please see my newest post on this topic--which will be on the agenda at the City Council meeting tonight at 5pm.

Dennis R. Lieb said...


The parking spot-saving with various household objects has never been a problem on my street because we have developed an unwritten rule of respect for each other on that matter. I also make it my business to shovel out about eight parking spaces around my own so that there is always an alternative.

It's a lot of work but I'd rather spend the extra time to shovel it myself than wait for someone else to do it or for someone to take my "own space" if the others are snow covered. I also completely clear all snow from the street, curb-to-curb, for a about ninety feet along my street or the city plow will just drag all the crud back in front of my place right after I'm done clearing it out.

I don't expect everyone to do what I do. We have a low traffic count and standing in the street to shovel is no big deal. We also have an abandoned PennDOT lot across the street to move the excess snow into, though it's a lot of extra walking back and forth.

The only time someone tried to save a space with a dining chair on my street was brought to an abrupt halt when I came home, saw it in the street, got out of my car and very deliberately and ceremonially lifted it over my head and smashed it into a hundred pieces...never happened again.

My reputation as a local maniac does have some validity.


Easton Heights Blogger said...

we've been trying to set a pattern on our block for shoveling as well. me and my othersideofthetwin neighbor get together and make sure we clean up our length of street. we have the rare advantage also to have yards to put the snow; the other side of the street has to be more creative.
our last storm, NO ONE else came out at all to shovel on wednesday. we were out at least 3 times. others seem to like to wait a day, two or more. there are still 2 cars on my block-EIGHT DAYS LATER- that haven't shoveled out yet.
I don't mind shoveling out other posts because the likelihood is all need some of them later. but if everyone came out when the snow is fresh, instead of staying in and ordering pizza all day we would all benefit.
BTW, I see Chidsey isn't on the street sweeping map either, I guess you'll be doing that yourself as well, like us on N7th.
Keith on the hill

Dennis R. Lieb said...


Planning ahead for snow placement in a town like Easton is key. It may seem weird to some but I think about stuff like this when vetting design schemes for the neighborhood.

We are lucky to have a bit of unclaimed common space to move the snow if we take the initiative. I prepared for the second storm by getting out the day before and moving the first snow piles from my two postage stamp front yards (I own both halves) to the backyard. This gave me a clean slate to at least get my sidewalks clear for the second storm.

I think the idea of marked parking spaces is excellent for a whole bunch of reasons that I can discuss if I ever get to a parking strategy post.

The other issue would be tree wells...on streets absent front yards - like Ferry or Lehigh - where there are no common areas or room for curb trees, we could place new tree wells on short peninsulas in the street that also act to seperate parking lanes.

Since people park like dopes already, we probably currently lose two to three spaces on each side of the street from incompitence. Tree islands with marked parking down each side of the street would retain the same amount of net parking but direct people into marked spaces and create the ability to enforce violators if they park outside the lines.

Chidsey won't be on a cleaning program any time soon. We also won't be getting a big snow plow, or probably a fire truck either, around the 12th Street corner because new people on the block park diagonally right up to the corner, making the radius to tight to get a large vehicle around. The garbage truck has already had to get them out of their house a 7am to move so they could collect the trash. This is another reason for benign parking solutions that cost little like my stripe-painting idea.