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Stellar road conditions remain a Ballwin strength

As usual, Jim Link, director of public works and superintendent of streets, earned a clean sweep of unanimous approval for his four staff report items at the Feb. 22 Ballwin Board of Aldermen meeting.

The most representative of the work for Link’s staff was an item to renew a contract for street sweeping. After all, Link and his crew has earned countless accolades for keeping Ballwin streets as neat as possible throughout all four seasons.

Prior to Link’s reports, Mayor Tim Pogue’s report said it all regarding the job of Link’s department for the month of February.

“I received a letter from a resident today,” Pogue said, reading the letter’s message. “’This is to extend my compliments of the outstanding street maintenance in a winter of unusual snow accumulations. I live in the Fox Creek (Estates) area, and I’ve had nothing less than top-notch service in keeping of our streets clean. My compliments go to the service of the city of Ballwin’s staff and residents. Thank you very much.’

“So, Jim, I pass that along to you and your staff. Again, you did a great job on this last series of storms we had.”

The street sweeping item, which rarely covers the snowy months, won easy approval since Contractors and Municipal Sweeping Service, Inc. of St. Peters was the only bidder. That company swept Ballwin’s streets in 2020 and has no known OSHA violations the past three years.

“We’ve done business with them the last four or five years,” Link said.  “Their bid came under budget. We budgeted $35,000 and theirs was $28,500 (for four times a year) with an additional $105 per hour on sweepings. They did change the actual months for us. We changed it from quarterly to March, May, July and September because we weren’t actually using the sweeper in the month of December. For the last two years, we didn’t get the sweeping in December, so I changed those months, and they were agreeable to that.”

It was mentioned that the additional $105 an hour can be well spent for events like the annual Ballwin Days celebration. Link said that it’s definitely a less costly choice to do so compared to having the city purchase its own street sweeper.

Alderman Kevin Roach (Ward 2) had inquired about that as a long-range alternative. Link responded that not only is it an expensive item to purchase, but he added that when he worked for Kirkwood, he used to budget $125,000 a year just in maintenance for that one piece of equipment.

Regarding the recent contract with Contractors and Municipal Sweeping Service, Inc, Ballwin will pay $28,500 for four sweeps a year. That’s well under the city’s $35,000 budget. He also mentioned that while previous contracts were done on a quarterly basis, that company agreed to a contract for March, May, July and September sweeps. It’s an additional $105 per hour for any additional sweeping.

Roach asked what the total cost might be for another full sweep, say after November leaves fall and prior to any late December snowfalls. Pogue responded that it would cost about $7,000, which would add up to the total budgeted amount.

“We can actually change the month, but sometimes we’re still collecting leaves until Christmas,” Link said. “But when the leaves are on the ground, they don’t want to sweep those up.”

“I was just thinking about all the tree trimming and stump grinding that we’re doing,” Roach said. “You know, that stuff is all over the road. I just put that under general cleanliness.”

Pogue responded that there were a couple years when Ballwin had late-year sweeping scheduled but was unable to get it done because either major snow occurred or there was no time to get a crew in to do a fourth sweeping. Link added that MSD requires four sweepings a year.

“I agree with Director Link’s recommendation,” Alderman Michael Finley (Ward 1) said. “It seems to make sense to me with the combination of the leaves and with the snow going on. I like this new schedule that he proposed.”

The contractual agreement includes the four street sweeping events, but not for disposal of the leftover debris. But Republic Waste has agreed to handle that at no cost to the city.

The accolades for Link’s staff that began with the letter read by Pogue, continued with Aldermanic Comments by both Ross Bullington (Ward 4) and Mark Stallmann (Ward 2).

“Kudos to you and the staff there,” Bullington said. “You really knocked it out of the park. The weather was not cooperative at all. You guys did a great job. Thank you.”

“Likewise to Jim,” Stallmann added. “The mayor and I, and Alderman Roach, received a letter from our constituents in Ward 2 that was already sent to you, praising all your folks for all the hard work and great job getting us through this last week.”

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