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City axes sweeping contract

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD Your street is going to be a lot cleaner in the future with the new street-sweeping plan unveiled by Mayor Charles Ryan on Thursday.

Ryan has terminated the contract the city had with American Sweeping Company, Inc., the private firm that had been awarded a contract by the Finance Control Board on Oct. 1, 2005. The contract will cease on Sept. 30.

The city will go back to sweeping the streets with a municipal crew that will save the city money.

The new sweeping service will use municipal employees in four new street sweepers the city will obtain with a lease-to-own plan for five years. Ryan said the new service would be able to go over every city street three times a year and the downtown area 35 to 40 times a year.

Currently, the private firm goes only every street twice a year and the downtown area nine times a year.

The present sweeping contract costs the city $415,500 annual. The new plan will cost $399,000.

Ryan said that when the crew isn't sweeping the streets, they would work on the cleaning and repairing of the city's 12,000 to 15,000 catch basins. A catch basin is storm sewer inlet that filters out leaves and other debris from entering sewer pipes.

"The back log [of catch basin work] is scary," Ryan said.

Ryan said he has been discussing the street sweeping plan with Department of Public Works head Al Chwalek for several weeks. He had a concern that the personnel wouldn't be used efficiently until he and Chwalek saw the opportunity to address catch basin maintenance.

Ryan said the review of the other privatization contracts made by the Finance Control Board could be reviewed as well.

"Anything happening here is always subject to review," he said.

City Councilor Domenic Sarno, who is running against Ryan for mayor, called for the termination of the street sweeping contract in a July 17 press release.