City Council has resolved that the winter's road sand will be pushed neatly along the curbs next spring for removal but whether Gloucester leases or buys new street sweepers is still up in the air.The council decided Tuesday to hold off on that decision, pending a recommendation from the consulting company now producing a management audit of the Department of Public Works.Matrix, the auditing company, has written that communities generally get better value buying and maintaining their own sweepers, but it noted there are numerous exemptions to the rule."For the time being," Ward 1 Councilor Jason Grow said, "we're still waiting to hear from the auditor. We'll have sweepers, either our own or somebody else's."The council voted 6-3 against approving the request of Public Works Director Joseph Parisi for $350,000 to buy two sweepers, one with brush technology which is best for sand, and one with vacuum technology, best for lighter refuse.The city last spring had a multitude of both with no functional sweepers. Its two sweepers, one purchased in 1999 and one in 2000, were no longer functional. Even when they were working, they were the vacuum type and not efficient with the city's surfeit of sand. Their effort in removing sand helped lead to their early demise, Parisi said.He said he did not know why the city administration in 1999 and 2000 decided on the less-suitable vacuum sweepers.Parisi said the city last winter dropped about 7,600 tons of sand and about the same amount of salt to keep roads passable.He said he expected to use about the same amount this winter.Grow said the council's decision to hold off on purchasing new sweepers also was influenced by the recommendation of the Capital Improvement Advisory Board, which advised leasing, rather than buying to "reduce capital expense as well as storage and maintenance expense."Parisi clashed with Council President James Destino at a public hearing last month over the smartest method of obtaining sweeping capability.Parisi argued that the acquisition charged to the city's credit card would spread the costs over years and not require immediate out-of-pocket expenses, but Destino doubted Parisi's approach and noted that the sweepers were essentially seasonal tools - used mostly during spring cleanup and then infrequently at other times."It could cost us a lot more after five years," Destino said.Putting the sweeper decision on hold did not deter the council from writing new rules aimed at preparing the streets for cleanup.Among the ordinances approved last month were those to: * Require residents to remove vehicles from the sweepers' scheduled paths along published routes. * Authorize police to tow any vehicles left in the published paths of sweepers. * Require homeowners to sweep the sand from their sidewalks "uniformly along the length of the sidewalk" and not just into big piles, which can't be brushed up by the mechanical sweepers.Parisi said the ordinances essentially codified long-standing policies.Parisi has cautioned the council not to wait too long in deciding to buy sweepers, because, he explained, the order-to-delivery time is long, and if ordered much later the city risks not having them ready for spring cleanup.Last spring, with both sweepers kaput, Parisi leased a sweeper for $25,000.He has promised to use sweepers purchased by the city to do special cleanups after festivals and large public events in summer and fall, and said the brush types are useful for fall leaf cleanup.

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