City Of Madison Messing Up Terraces, Angering Taxpayers


Once again the method the City of Madison employed to pick up spring piles of brush and leaves from terraces caused concern, and even some anger from residents and taxpayers.  There were many residents who found the way city leaves were picked up last fall to be nothing short of ridiculous.  Those feelings have been transferred to the spring-time pick-up.

Terraces were marred by using too large of equipment with large deep-treaded wheels.  Little consideration was made for the way many residents of the city try to maintain the terrace space.  Before and after pictures of the damage the bobcat type machine does to the terrace would make for some interesting conversations with city workers.

This spring the number of folks I have spoken to, or heard from, on this matter regarding the terraces all paint the same picture.

The city, by using the wrong equipment, and not being careful are scraping off topsoil, grass, along with other growth.  In addition they are running the machines over tree roots and riding over curbs and onto yards and gardens.  They leave being ruts and ripped up sod.

That is just not the way the city should be operating, or the way the terraces that many folks work hard to maintain should be treated.

My concern about how leaves are taken from terraces started in the fall of 2009.  It was then the city brought in a bobcat type tractor to gather the leaves from  my terrace.  This, in and of itself, was ridiculous, as in previous years a couple of guys had jumped from a truck, and raked the pile into the street.  It took a couple of minutes.  Then a small jeep-like vehicle pushed the leaves into the lift on the back of a city truck.  The leaves left, and the terrace was not damaged.

But in 2009 due to the bobcat being driven like a 17-year-old with a new license my sod was ripped up, deep track marks were left, and it looked like hell.  All just to get the leaves off the terrace!  Worse was the fact the city crew must have thought this was an acceptable way of doing business.

Again this year we found a way not to need to place anything on the terrace as we have worked hard to keep the space looking nice.  This is, after all, the city we call home, and want it to look nice.  I suspect most of my fellow Madisonians feel the same.

I only wish the city crews that pick up the leaves and brush all felt the same.

3 thoughts on “City Of Madison Messing Up Terraces, Angering Taxpayers

  1. CommonCents

    Put the leaves and brush in the street! Our neighborhood reverted back to doing that rather than having our lawns torn up year after year. Former Mayor Dave’s policy on not putting leaves in the street to reduce runoff has been counterproductive.

  2. Solly

    We live on the eastside with many more oak and maple leaves than we can compost. Several years ago, against my better judgement, we raked the leaves to the edge of the lawn (we don’t have sidewalks). We listened to the PSAs about not raking the leaves into the street. This was the same time that the city changed their practice of not having a set schedule to pick up leaves (e.g. your trash pickup is Monday, leaves pickup is first week of Oct. so that you could plan and have them to the curb just in time). Instead to “get rid of overtime,” another Mayor Davey innovation, they announced they’d get to pickup in any given neighborhood, “whenever.” Result, our leaves piled on the lawn for weeks, and when the city picked up the leaves, they used a small bobcat to scrape them off the lawn (leaves are sooooooo heavy) along with a lot of turf. And beyond that, from having a pile a leaves there for weeks, all the grass below was dead. So, I guess it’s better to have bare soil washing into the street. I called the city to complain about the gouging of the lawn, and they said, oh yeah, we know, you’re on our list for reseeding. Do ya think they could have left a note so we knew they knew? I don’t think they reseeded until spring. Next year, our excess leaves went into the street. Message delivered, lesson learned. It’s kinda funny to see all of our neighbors learn the same lesson, listen to the PSAs, lawn dead and scraped, next year the pile is in the street for weeks until they get to it.

  3. Badger Babe

    DON’T PUT LEAVES IN THE STREETS UNLESS YOU WANT TO SCREW UP OUR LAKES! That’s where those leaves will end up — and will break down and eventually contribute to algae and other growth that will ultimately result in weed-choked, stinking waterways. Storm sewer water is NOT treated. And don’t blame Mayor Dave or any other mayor! Maybe the problem belongs to Madison Streets Department management and the way they do the job.

    My home-owning husband and I have had brush placed on the terrace and had it there so long that it killed off the grass. We didn’t get re-seeded. That was OUR cost. Pray you NEVER have a sidewalk repaired. Despite denials, the city uses dirty fill — soil with lots of weed seeds in it. And if that doesn’t make you angry enough, take a look at the ugly way trees are pruned when that tree is proximate to overhead utility wiring. (No beauty in the Y-shaped trees that will eventually have to be cut down altogether.) The folks who kill off terrace grass are the same folks who “remind” people to make sure a newly planted terrace tree is watered and cared for.

    Why bother to call the Streets Department? That’s just an exercise in futility. Whether you try being polite or whether you’re justifiably angry, the folks who answer the phones simply don’t seem to care about citizen complaints, an attitude that starts with the head of the department. (Ask anyone who has had to repeatedly remove snow from a corner curb cut or driveway only to have it pushed back by city plows — by the same crew who leave garbage strewn in the streets from their cost-effective garbage pick-up strategy.)

    It really may be unfair to blame front-line workers for many of these problems since those workers may be doing the best they can to respond to management strategies that are intended to be cheap, not creative or respectful of homeowners. And lets not forget: no one wants higher property tax bills so that work can be done the way it used to be done. Public employees? They’re not needed! Besides, it seems it’s more fun for some to complain instead of working for something better.

    Some days, there doesn’t seem to be much respect from city officials for the work done by homeowners — during growing season or snow-removal season for that matter.

    Want to blame someone? Blame the department manager and supervisors who approve approaches implemented without adequate worker training and without much consideration given to anything but the immediate goal of getting a job done cheaply and with fewer workers. And at a time when Wisconsin’s governor insults public workers and solves “problems” local municipalities don’t want him meddling in while pimping himself to Tea Party Ideologues living in other states, dead grass on a terrace may be one of the more “desirable” effects.

    (Isn’t it amazing that Walker, who has argued for less state interference in local affairs, is now pushing to have EVERYTHING done his way? What a lying hypocrite! But anyone who reads this blog knows that already….)

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