Eastpointe gets to work on cleaning city after winter

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published May 6, 2014

EASTPOINTE — Spring cleaning is not just cleaning junk out of the house.

For Eastpointe, it includes getting debris out of the roads, the median areas, the parks and the properties throughout the city. Department of Public Works Director Mary Van Haaren said that the effort got underway in late April but is ongoing. Street sweepers have gone out to clean up the debris in the streets, which is caused by melting ice and snow, and the deterioration to the roads themselves, she said.

“We also get employees out there with backpack blowers to blow all the debris that’s sticking in bushes and trees and nooks and crannies,” Van Haaren said. “They blow it into the street so the sweepers can get those out, too. We just did that in downtown.”

The city workers also are planning on cleaning up planted areas, she said, removing dead plants and weeds that were missed in the fall. The city’s parks staff is out cleaning the parks and doing tree trimming, in addition to those median areas.

City Manager Steve Duchane said that Eastpointe typically has street sweepers go through to try and clean up during the winter months whenever weather conditions allow, but due to the length and severity of this past winter, that was largely stymied.

With construction taking place to repair damage to the roads and other infrastructure, he said that dust is something they will be dealing with for a bit. However, Duchane said that the city is getting some cleanup assistance from outside the city workers.

“The sheriff’s department will have a work crew, or whatever it’s called now, that will be doing cleanup,” Duchane said. “And volunteer groups are doing right-of-way cleanups in the streets and roads. I think people are really ready to have winter over, and cleanup is one way to address it.”

The city is only one portion of the annual cleanup effort, however — residents play a part, too. Van Haaren said letters go to property owners regarding what is expected for keeping the buildings and landscapes in order now that the snow has melted.

“Code enforcement goes out and looks for what was buried under the snow and what is now out there, and it sends out letters to property owners to do the same and get litter cleaned up on their properties — whatever is left from last fall when they didn’t finish with the grass, or leaves, or branches.”

The DPW will be holding a free open yard day May 17 for people throughout the city to bring in yard and building garbage that needs to be thrown out, though Van Haaren said hazardous materials cannot be accepted. Those include fuel containers, auto parts, tires, smoke detectors and paint.

Information on where to dispose of hazardous waste will be available, she said. The open yard day runs from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the DPW facility at 17800 10 Mile Road.

For vacant structures, Van Haaren said the city needs to track down and contact the current property owner to find out how long the property has been vacant. After that, city workers perform an inspection and then require the owner to do any necessary cleanup work.

This can include lawn mowing, and Van Haaren said that if a property owner is unable to keep grass shorter than 6 inches in length, the owner would be notified. If it still has not been cut, the city will have a contractor do it and bill the property owner for the work.

Spring is also when Eastpointe will be able to make repairs to portions of the city’s infrastructure. Van Haaren said a contractor would be out repairing sections of concrete in the streets that were damaged when water main and sewer repairs were made during the winter. 

Duchane added that with work on service lines — part of the sewer system — going on, along with other sewer repair and replacement work, construction will be an ongoing issue for a little while.

“I apologize for any inconvenience, but it is work that is moving the community forward,” he said.”