Budget impacts city of Tulsa's right of way mowing program

Monday, September 12th 2005, 10:49 am
By: News On 6

The city of Tulsa has cut back on cutting back - the grass. In some places, grass on city property is only cut once a month.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says take a walk through some city of Tulsa right of way and you might have a hard time walking, even with the man in charge of mowing it.

The city isn't mowing patches of grass like this as often as it used to. Paul Strizek, City of Tulsa’s contract mowing manager: "Each year we cut back a little bit more, a couple of years ago we did more than a million dollars worth of contract mowing and this year we're down to $530,000. That's quite a cut."

Letting the grass grow saves money, but it makes the neighborhoods and streets look bad. Tulsan Dick Bland: "If my lawn was as tall as this median, the city would be sending me a notice telling me they were going to mow my lawn and send me a bill for it."

The city responds to complaints about high grass in the medians, but only cuts it more than once a month if it's blocking a drivers view. Because the city of Tulsa’s Street Department doesn't have the money to mow every time it's needed, they have to put it on a schedule, for medians like this it's just 8 times a year. That means between cuttings, the grass can get several feet tall.

The grass is high in city parks because of too much rain. The parks are normally mowed every 2 weeks, but the work backed up with all the rain and then ozone days in August. Ross Weller with the City of Tulsa Parks Department: “It’s not something we're not proud of; we want the parks to look well." The parks department has added crews and started working 10 hour days to catch up.

For the city, high grass is a normal summertime battle, but one that's worse than usual for this time of year.

The city of Tulsa's parks department spends about $350,000 a year on mowing, and the street department about $530,000.