×

Concord leaf collection back in full swing despite wintry weather

  • A General Services crew picks up leaves on the side of the road along Broadway in Concord on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • A General Services crew picks up leaves on the side of the road along Broadway in Concord on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • A dusting of snow covers a pile of leaves in Concord on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Lyman Brooks uses a blower to pile up leaves for some of his neighbors along Broadway in Concord on Tuesday. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • A General Services crew waits for a replacement dump truck while vacuuming up leaves on the side of the road along Broadway in Concord on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff


Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The city of Concord’s leaf collection program was slowed by Monday’s wintry snowfall, but it’s back in full swing.

Every fall, Concord sends out crews to collect leaves along the city’s 220 miles of maintained streets, a process that takes six weeks or so, depending on the weather. After being collected, the leaves, which homeowners have moved to the edge of the road, are deposited at several locations on city-owned land and a few private farms throughout Concord.

Concord uses vacuums contained in large trailers hauled behind six- or 10-wheel trucks. One person drives, inching the truck along at a few miles per hour; one person swings the 16-inch diameter hose, which dangles from the right side of the trailer; and the rest rake leaves into the long piles called windrows, which are accessible to the pipe’s limited reach.

The crew, which starts work at 6:30 a.m., switches jobs throughout the day; and typically gather more than a thousand tons – yes, tons – of leaves each year.

The vacuum system is unusual if not unique among New Hampshire cities. It speeds the process of leaf collection but doesn’t make it effortless: Even with the motorized assist, keeping the hose swinging back and forth requires a constant bending and moving that takes a toll.

The biggest variable for city crews is the weather. Wet leaves are much heavier, so a rainy autumn can slow the process enormously.

On the other hand, too little rain is also a problem because it creates a dust cloud – to the point that sometimes the city has to wet down leaf piles in advance. Not this year.

“It slows us down but won’t stop us,” Chip Chesley, director of the city’s General Services Department said of the early winter weather. The only thing that will bring the massive vacuum to a halt, he said, is a heavy snowfall, which isn’t in the forecast.

“Our hope is we can avoid a significant snowfall until the third week of December. That way we can get through the whole city,” Chesley said.