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Your Turn: Develop a Better Leaf Pickup Plan

The one pitched by village staff to be vetted by the incoming council has been criticized by residents; can you come up with a better idea?

There's no shortage of criticism over a proposed plan to have Ridgewood residents bag all the fall leaves themselves.

According to the informal poll here on Patch, about 70 percent of people say the village's idea is "terrible" considering the high taxes they pay.

Director of Operations Frank Moritz and Streets Department head John Spano offered a plan to officials intent on making a change, admitting they expected residents to pan the idea.

Instead of having towering leaf piles jumbled in the streets, narrowing roads and creating safety hazards for workers and residents alike, the residents should bear more responsibility and bag the leaves themselves, the pair told the council. "It's about safety," they said.

The plan calls for residents to leave the bags – some of which would be provided by the village for a small cost – on their own property and wait for the village to grab them; the pickups would increase from three seasonal passes to one a week with the yardwaste schedule. Registered landscapers could still dispose the leaves and small branches into the dump on Lakeview for no additional fee.

"This recommendation will solve the staff issues, the equipment issues, the appearance issues, the collection issues," Village Manager Ken Gabbert said. "As the mayor pointed out, it may have some controversial components."

That it did.

A minority of commenters said they saw the change as a positive one but others said it was an overreaction to the October swowstorm and questioned if the idea could even work.

"Impractical," in summing up the plan. "Even if, and it's a big if, most people bag their leaves, what about all the masses of leaves and tree debris that cannot be attributed to someone's house? The Village will still be on the hook for cleaning that up. Many people will also simply not bag. What will the Village do about them? Issue hundreds of tickets? 'They aren't my leaves. They just blew in front of my house.'"

"It will only put more cost on the homeowner who is already overburdened with high taxes," . "For those of us who rake our own leaves the added burden of having to put leaves in bags is over the top. Pickup the leaves as you always have and stop the nonsense."

Some suggested keeping the same plan in place with on a temporary basis. Others saw purchase of  as a possible solution.

Here's your task, citizen: if the proposed plan is not to your liking, what would you rather see? Let's see if a plan can be hatched that addresses the manpower issues, equipment costs, logistics, safety issues as well as direct and indirect costs to the residents.

Add your pitch below in the comments.

Boyd A. Loving June 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM
The proposed plan is to my liking.
doug June 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM
the plan is ridiculous we have over 50 trees on our property there is NO way to get them all into bags without me quitting my day job. we pay a lot of $ in taxes. let them figure it out . the last years have been a joke as to their coordination and supervision. they can do a much better job and should.
RdgwdGRock June 11, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Boyed - the proposed plan whereby you come over bag & take away my leaves is to my liking
Dennis Martinez June 11, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Continue the current process..........bagging can work in some communities with limited trees but it's not going to work on the west side of town.
Ridgewood Mom June 11, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Like others, I would like more for less. On the other hand, I do not know how to obtain that. Apart from listening to people vent their frustrations on Boyd, I would love to see other suggestions here. Other serious suggestions. I'm not saying that I have any. I'm not saying that I agree with Boyd. I'm not saying that I disagree with Boyd. I just that I want to know what else people have in mind, besides just hearing that they are angry. Not that those feelings aren't legitimate, in and of themselves, insofar as they are not so pointedly directed at Boyd. People, it's not Boyd's fault that the economy is tough these days. Let's get with the title of this thread.
Boyd A. Loving June 11, 2012 at 02:15 PM
What makes the west side of the Village different than its east side with respect to leaf pickup?
News Man June 11, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Talk, Talk, and more Talk will not change the need for a solution. The new Council will determine who will be responsible and get paid to develop a plan that will be satisfactory. If they can't then we will have to make more changes.
Dennis Martinez June 11, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Sheer volume of trees. You travel through some of the streets like Upper Boulevard and Heights and almost every house has 100 trees on it. They would have had to give me 200 bags just to do my backyard
NotNewHere June 11, 2012 at 03:07 PM
The town should hire a contractor, just as they do for snow removal. This would supplement the Village employess.
Moist Cake June 11, 2012 at 03:36 PM
The town cannot handle the pickups anymore as is, the staffing is no longer there. Contractors would help but at a cost! Pay for the services you want or stop complaining. You get what you pay for, and we all are about to pay for it. Oh, and you can bet with the fines from non-compliance, this will be a money maker for the town. I guarantee you they collect. Next stop front yard garbage pickup. I'll bet my tax bill on it.
jp1 June 11, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Hire temps during leaf cleanup. A fair amount of residents already bring their garbage to the curb. As for enforcement try to remember comments relating to lack of personnel. Not going to happen.
Moist Cake June 11, 2012 at 04:06 PM
When there is money to be made, people always seems to show up!
Boyd A. Loving June 11, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Mulch with mower and leave in place, or mulch and then bag (this will significantly reduce the number of bags needed, and also make it easier to bag).
Ara Hourdajian June 11, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Offer bagging on only certain streets such as west Glen where there are no sidewalks. Also some of the main roads such as Maple Avenue. This could be a compromise.
Bob Hutton June 11, 2012 at 05:35 PM
What are our priorities? What village employees are doing what tasks? Can we optimize the use of our human resources? I know that as empty nesters we don't need twice a week garbage pick up. At times of the year, can there be trade offs? The picture I have in my mind is these piles of bags -- little forts -- along the side of the road. I don't see a problem with front yard garbage pick up. It has to be more efficient and time saving for those collections, then so same employees can do leaves.
Boyd A. Loving June 11, 2012 at 07:46 PM
It is rumored that Village officials have considered the possibility of changing to once a week garbage pickup. However, our existing sanitation trucks would not be able to handle the volume of garbage collected during a once per week pickup without making numerous trips to the waste transfer facility in Ramapo, NY. The overtime required to make these trips would offset any cost savings associated with a once per week schedule.
Marco Maric June 11, 2012 at 07:59 PM
How lazy are people that they can't bag their own leaves. Why don't people just give their landscapers a little extra to take them. If you pay a lot of taxes it's because you have a really big house with a lot of trees, but I doubt the house came with a free leaf bagging service. Who knew West Side living was so stressful.
Rock June 11, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I have a hard time understanding how a large truck driving down the street with a guy lifting up bags and throwing them in the truck is more cost effective/ better than a large truck with a guy managing a suction tube.
Boyd A. Loving June 11, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Those familiar with the operation of vacuum trucks during leaf pickup season indicate that they get clogged frequently due to the presence of sticks/limbs in the piles of leaves. Also, one objective of the new plan is to keep traffic delays to a minimum. A vacuum truck drives much slower down the street than a regular sanitation truck.
Rock June 11, 2012 at 09:11 PM
hmm. ok. But 3 seasonal vacuum truck passes vs. 1 a week for the sanitation truck picking up leaves might offset the traffic improvement. Plus if the vacuum truck was more than 3x a season, it would have less to pick up and could go more quickly -- again, limiting the traffic issue.
Dennis Martinez June 11, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Let's eliminate the Police Department and contract with the State Police and while at it eliminate the paid Fire Department and go to an all volunteer Fire Dept. like some of our neighbors, eliminate municipal garbage collection and require hiring of private sanitation and then take all recycling to the Center ourselves......and in the interest of saving additional money and to solve this little dilema let's have grandma and grandpa bag their own leaves......Let's get real lean and mean! When people commented about our high taxes, I told them we had the best schools and the best services......oh well.
limabean June 11, 2012 at 10:20 PM
I think we need not overreact to the environmental disaster we had in october with bagging leaves. We need a) a disaster recovery plan just like we do for excess snowfall or flooding. b) I don't think I ever see landscapers bringing leaves to the central location for the fact that they want to charge residents. The town should enforce all lanscapers to follow this or be left without a permit to operate. And c) residents need to step up and ensure nothing is included but leaves at curbside. Branches should be bundled as requested. I would be happy to get together with the counsel to incorporate inputs and review suggestions and alternatives. Denise
KenC June 12, 2012 at 01:49 AM
The October storm was unusual. And the response seemed to be poor. Let's figure out how to improve the response when unusual things happen. This has nothing to do with the routine collection of leaves, which has been taking place for ages without significant problems before last year. Perhaps this proposal is a way to cut village expenses. Will our taxes be lowered to compensate residents for the added effort and expense of bagging?
Ridgewood Mom June 12, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I agree with Ken, that the October situation was unusual. That being said, there was something clearly missing in the response to the situation, both with the service itself and higher up. But in the past I have been generally satisfied with leaf pickup service in the Village. In my view, a bigger issue is response preparedness for extraordinary disasters. Not leaf collection in general. This point applies to the floods, etc. And, looking forward rather then backward, we need to see to it that we have emergency plans in place for the next unforeseen.
Ridgewood Mom June 12, 2012 at 02:06 AM
The west side did pose greater challenges, in general, last October.
denise June 12, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Exactly my point earlier and we know who was absent from those meetings during the storm. Mr abronhson...where is your support on this topic. We need your vocal opinion now just like we herd you in october. And I like the idea of getting a rebate on our taxes when we make concessions
Moist Cake June 12, 2012 at 01:39 PM
We don't deserve a tax deduction, we have not supported our services or infrastructure to an adequate levels in YEARS! perhaps a decade now, we are finally seeing the fruit of that plan with much more to come. Google NYC 1970's for details on what deferred infrastructure investment does!!!! We have a surplus for pete sake, invest it already. Hire workers along with contractors and return to 4 pickups. Problem solved.
KenC June 12, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Moist, agreed that we need the proper investment in services and infrastructure. That said, tell me what you think about requiring leaves to be bagged. After all, leaf collection is the topic of this article. Leaf collection is what this discussion is about. Is that idea to have everyone bag leaves coming from poor leaf collection in the past? (Aside from the mismanaged collection after the storm.) Is it coming from a belief that the current way leaves are collected are "unsafe"? As a homeowner with a narrow view outside my window, leaf collection is done reasonably well. And safely. But I am willing to learn a new thing if there is actual evidence something is wrong with this service. In the absence of any evidence, I will view the bagging idea as a way to reduce Village expenses while raising the cost of living in Ridgewood.
Andrew J June 12, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I'm not against bagging leaves, but I agree with KenC's comments regarding a desire for some evidence to support the alleged need to make changes in service. I'm especially concerned that after disastrous responses by the town concerning leaf and snow removal last year, the council's response is to cut services versus finding ways to make things better, address what went wrong last year and hold people accountable. Cutting services as a response to mismanagement is a slippery slope; I'm sure it's very unlikely we'll get services restored when times are better, so we should be careful what we so quickly give up. I also hope we don't eventually move to once a week garbage pickup as mentioned above. Having garbage pile up next to everyone's house seems to contradict the goal to keep Ridgewood beautiful. The town is not that big that a well managed plan cannot keep leaves (and snow) off the streets safely especially given the taxes everyone is paying.
Douglas Cronk June 13, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Well said, Andrew J. Leaves fall where the wind takes them and we're obviously not going to be able to bag the ones that fall on streets. Improve efficiency and enforce the rules that restrict when leaves can be put out. (Landscapers can feel free to take them away at off times.) Not sure I agree with you on the 1x/week trash pickup, though. I feel like we have a lot less waste per household than we used to and, with proper incentives/equipment/education, we might be able to save some money, retain our sacred rear-yard and be more environmentally responsible at the same time.

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