The mountains of tree debris should begin to shrink by as soon as next week.
Steve McDaniel, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department’s superintendent of parks, said the city is working to hire a contractor to grind and dispose of the tree limbs and stumps dumped by residents after the July 29 storm.
The city allowed residents to take their tree debris to three drop-off locations after the storms to help clear the limbs from curbs. The sites were closed last weekend for new debris, but piles of it remain two to three stories high and city blocks wide.
Al Moll, parks director, told the parks board Thursday the city had hoped to get a contractor to remove all that debris for free in exchange for letting the company keep all the mulch. “There was so much of it,” he said.
Unfortunately, such an agreement didn’t work partly because much of the debris was unusable for mulch, he said.
McDaniel said the city expects to pay between $50,000 and $60,000 to remove the debris, depending on how much wood is at the sites. The contractor will be selected and start work by next week, he said, and it would take a few days to clear each site.
In the meantime, McDaniel said the city has increased security at the three drop-off sites after a pile of debris caught fire Saturday at Shoaff Park. McDaniel said the fire department douses the wood to keep it damp and police officers monitor the sites regularly.
The cost to remove the debris adds to the list of expenses the parks department incurred because of the storm. Moll said $200,000 in damage was done to park buildings, $1.2 million worth of street trees were lost and $500,000 will be spent on contractors to collect tree limbs from across the city.
In addition, the parks department lost about $20,000 in revenue because the storm prevented golf courses from opening and pavilions from being rented. The department hopes to recoup some of those costs through insurance or federal emergency help. The rest would have to be covered by city money through an additional appropriation, Moll said.