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Updated mowing equipment saves time, money in South Fayette Township

By Andrea Iglar

A small piece of equipment will make a big difference in the parks this summer.

South Fayette Township Public Works has purchased an all-wheel drive compact tractor, along with attachments, to help maintain grass, fields and other township property more efficiently.

“It’s the most versatile equipment we have now,” Public Works Superintendent Nick Nickolas said.

The $65,000 Ventrac 4500Z includes attachments for athletic field mowing, aerating and grooming; leaf blowing; brush cutting; stump grinding; and trench digging.

South Fayette Township Public Works crew member John Barrett  demonstrates the leaf blower attachment on the department’s new tractor in February.
Photo: Andrea Iglar

A removable cab provides seasonal protection for operators and protects them from injuries, poison ivy and other risks of manual maintenance.

In the summer, Public Works cuts and trims about 100 acres of grass every week.

Locations include eight parks and trails, the municipal building grounds and six major intersections.

In addition, grass cutting along the berms of township-owned and some state-owned roads amounts to more than 300 acres each year.

From last April to October, the labor costs of grass mowing and trimming topped $122,800, with 10 people—including two full-time employees, two adult seasonal workers and six summer youth employees—spending nearly every day mowing and maintaining the parks and other township property.

The updated equipment will allow one person to tackle in an hour or two what previously took four people a whole day to complete, Mr. Nickolas said.

The articulating tractor can navigate steep slopes up to 30 degrees (58 percent grade), so workers will not need to risk dangerous, time-consuming manual weed whacking on hills.

“It’s way safer than any other machine made to do steep slopes," Mr. Nickolas said.

Public Works Director Butch Truitt said the department has been aiming to acquire equipment that reduces manpower and manual labor, which “ultimately frees up the workers to do other necessary tasks.”

Mark Mitchell trims grass in Boys Home Park.
Photo: Andrea Iglar

Grow then Mow

Grass mowing in the summer is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, with ongoing costs related to labor, fuel, maintenance and parts.

In addition to the new tractor with attachments, Public Works maintains the following equipment for grass mowing and associated transportation of employees and equipment:

3 trucks

3 trailers

12 various types of mowers

Tractor with brush mower

4WD utility vehicle

10 weed trimmers

4 leaf blowers