Apr 112012

By Teri Walker —

Spring is the season of renewal and new life, and there is one element of the natural world that embraces this annual lease on life with absolute gusto: weeds. Through an ongoing program offered by the City of Holbrook, residents can tackle those pesky yard encroachers free of charge.

The city is again providing free weed killer and sprayers to Holbrook residents, and will haul away yard clippings and weeds at no cost for those who don’t have a means of hauling the debris themselves.

Since starting the weed program last year, City Manager Ray Alley said the city has given away a couple of hundred weed sprayers and he’s willing to keep giving them away if people are willing to work on cleaning up their properties. City residents and property owners can stop by city hall to pick up a sprayer and weed killer. If someone has already received a weed sprayer, they can return to the city for a fresh supply of weed killer. Alley is committed to making the material available to anyone intent on cleaning up their yard.

The city is stepping up weeding in its own backyard and has retrofitted a golf cart with an industrial sprayer set up, which it’s taking down alleys and onto other city properties to tackle lurking weeds. Alley points out the weed killer being provided to home and property owners is not a soil sterilite, it must be applied directly to weeds. The spray being used on city properties is a soil sterilite, and Alley noted that those applying it have been certified in proper application of the chemicals.

By the end of winter, high winds and snowstorms left downed tree limbs strewn throughout the city. Alley said the city will haul away those limbs, along with other yard clippings and weeds, if residents do not have access to a truck or trailer. The offer of free hauling is for “green waste” only, and doesn’t include garbage or materials other than weeds, tree limbs, plant clippings, grass, leaves and pruning cast offs.

Holbrook is spending $5,000 to $6,000 on the green waste project, which is part of the city’s ongoing community cleanup efforts. Alley, city staff and council members have placed a lot of emphasis in the past year on cleaning up neighborhoods and generally improving the appearance of the community for the benefit of those who live and work in the community, and in anticipation of growth. Alley repeatedly speaks in city council meetings of the decisions companies and individuals who will move to the region in support of potash mine development operations will have to make about where to take up residence. He wants Holbrook to be an attractive option as those who are relocating consider it and surrounding communities.

To that end, the city supported a number of community clean up activities last year, including a program dubbed “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” that City Councilman Bobby Tyler spearheaded in conjunction with area churches and community organizations, with the aim of increasing neighborliness and building a sense of community as neighbors came together to clean up their own and each other’s properties. The city has also stepped up its abatement program, tearing down derelict buildings and helping property owners secure steep discounts on demolition and clean up costs so they can tackle unsightly and unsafe properties. Alley said 50 to 60 properties have been cleared and made ready for redevelopment through the ongoing abatement program.

There are no conditions placed on the current weed abatement program, although Alley does encourage people picking up a sprayer or cleaning up to take care of a neighbor’s property while they’re at it, so the benefits of the program can be extended. Sprayers, weed killer and replacement weed killer are now available at city hall, located at 465 First Ave. To schedule green waste pick up, call city hall at 524-6225 or stop by the city offices.