Roeland Park’s new leaf pickup truck is ready to hit the streets this fall — along with changes to city’s program

Roeland Park leaf pickup
Roeland Park’s new $162k leaf pickup truck vacuums leaves from residents’ curbs.

Roeland Park’s one-of-a-kind leaf pickup program is getting a new look this fall.

The city recently purchased a new leaf pickup truck that vacuums up leaves instead of scooping them. Jose Leon, Roeland Park public works director, said Roeland Park was “in dire need” of replacing the equipment because it incurred hefty maintenance expenses last fall.

During pickup season in 2017, several bricks, landscape rocks, yard tools and other heavy objects hidden in leaf piles got picked up by the machine and broke the leaf shredder. Those issues cost thousands of dollars and “a lot of downtime” to fix.

“Over the last couple of years, having to deal with that and the age of the equipment, all of that combined just really made us look at other options,” Leon said.

The new truck is expected to mitigate some of those issues — but it will also require a change to the way residents must prepare the leaves for pick up.

“No longer are leaves allowed to be placed in the street,” read a message from the city to residents last week. “The leaves are now required to be placed behind the curb in front of your home for pickup.”

In addition to equipment damage, leaf piles in the street often caused a safety hazard for motorists who would have to drive through or around the leaf piles, Leon added. The leaves also backed up the stormwater drains, causing environmental problems.

Roeland Park has offered the leaf pickup service for the past 14 years. The city-funded service is unique to the Kansas City metro area, Leon said. Residents pay for the service through a solid waste fee.

The new truck and leaf pickup system will use fewer city resources while also providing a more environmentally friendly operation, Leon said, adding that the new $162,000 leaf pickup truck was a cost-savings on the program. Replacing the old system with newer of the same equipment would have cost the city $170,000.

Additionally, Leon estimated the new leaf pickup program will cost roughly $81,000, a potential cost savings of $7,000 from last year’s program, which cost $88,000.

The pickup schedule begins Nov. 5 and ends Feb. 2, 2019. Each resident will have three opportunities for leaf pickup in front of their home. Residents can also place leaves in yard waste bags for regularly scheduled trash pickup.