STREETS & HIGHWAYS/Purchase allows city to extend sweeping
In Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the road to success begins with clean streets. “You can write all you want about incentives and quality of life while recruiting new business, but the acid test is always a drive through the city,” says Ed Murphy, the city’s director of development. “Clean, pretty and safe are what [people] are looking for, or they’ll drive right by.”
Street cleaning tasks fall to the city’s Central Garage, where Fleet Supervisor Michael Innello maintains Poughkeepsie’s two sweepers. “When the sweepers are up and running, I don’t hear any [complaints]; as soon as they go down, the phone is ringing,” he says.
Innello’s phone was ringing quite a bit early this year, when one of the city’s street sweepers broke one too many times. “It was down more than it was up,” Innello says. “It was extremely costly to maintain. You had to buy most of the parts from [the manufacturer] because it was all made to their specs, and the cost was just out of sight.”
Searching for a new sweeper, Innello considered year-round operation as well as maintenance factors. Freezing temperatures prevent Poughkeepsie from using water in street sweepers during the winter months, and, without water, the sweepers produce dust. “In the wintertime, we parked [the sweepers] and winterized them, and that was it until summer,” Innello says.
That changed in April, when Poughkeepsie purchased a Centurion street sweeper from Minneapolis-based Tennant. The vacuum sweeper operates in wet or dry mode, allowing the city to clean year-round.
Most of the time, drivers use the dry vacuum, Innello says. They sweep the business district daily and then move to one of seven other city sections. “We do the business district first, but, if we go into residential areas in the morning, we will use water because vacuuming is a little on the loud side,” Innello explains. “But as soon as it gets a little bit later, we turn the water off and use the vacuum.”
According to Innello, residents have stopped calling him about the street sweepers. He has noticed a change among the sweeper crews as well. “The drivers are happy because [of the dust control]. If they choose to roll the windows down on a decent day, they don’t have to worry about wearing masks,” he says. “Also, they are not stopping to [fill the sweeper with] water, and they’re not wasting time running across town to dump water. So productivity is up.”