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New Leaf Collection Idea: Bag it, Resident [Poll]

Do you like the new proposal?

A potential new solution to Ridgewood's may have emerged, but the residents probably won't like it.

At Wednesday night's council meeting, officials agreed the old leaf collection plan – scooping up leaves left on the curb three different times from October through December – simply wasn't working and a new council will choose a revised plan. 

Ridgewood simply couldn't handle the double-to-triple the debris volume last fall and it showed.

During the , village workers were injured, overtime ran sky-high and contractors came to help cleanup weeks after the snow fell. For many residents it was . 

Under the new proposal, residents take far more responsibility and bear a higher cost burden.

"What we've proposed and put together is all leaves would be picked up and contained in paper bags," said Director of Operations head Frank Moritz. "No loose leaves will be placed in the street, and the bags will be placed on the property, not in the street. Only twigs and brush that fit into these bio-degradable bags will be permitted."

The plan would allow for landscapers registered in the village to take piles to the Lakeview facility.

Pickups would align with the yard waste schedule, which would allow for eight passes in total, Moritz said. The leaves will be collected by two garbage trucks, with front-end loaders and vacuums following for residual leaves. Manpower need (currently 14) would be reduced and safety greatly improved, Streets Division head John Spano added.

The towering leaf piles seen in the streets often create dangerously narrow roads but would be a thing of the past, Spano told the council. Some pile high and children play in them, creating potentially dangerous situations.

"The residents, they ain't gonna like it," Spano conceded of the plan. "But it's something they've got to look at. If they've got children, it's a safety issue and it's important that we get it done."

The current council deferred to take action with a new council coming aboard in less than a month. Regardless, Village Manager Ken Gabbert said it was a comprehensive plan.

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

Deputy Mayor Tom Riche said there must be some teeth with enforcement. A $25 ticket won't deter many from dumping in the street, he said.

"There is going to be an added cost to residents for the landscaper to be bringing things to Lakeview. Residents already pay taxes for leaf pickup," Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh said. "Those who are paying high landscaper fees are not going to be happy with the fact that they're going to have to have an added cost."

"We will move on it quickly in the next council," Councilman Paul Aronsohn said, adding he remains hopeful the new plan – whatever it ends up being – can reduce the tax burden for the village residents.

The new council will be sworn in on July 1.

What do you think of the plan? Take our poll and comment.

RdgwdGRock June 09, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Boyd - Long Time Resident is correct. A streets dept employee could have been hit anytime. The blame is not the leaves, but the bad driver, which there are many all the time.
Moist Cake June 09, 2012 at 09:52 PM
I don't think you people understand that there no more people working in town to handle leaf collection anymore. We used to have a decent sized DPW to handle the operation they are down to single digits.. They are taking about more layoffs, the town cannot handle this service anymore. You can't scream about taxes and want the same level of service, one has to break. You should be asking for the town to hire more people if you want this service to continue. Otherwise, happy bagging and paying fines.
Oliver Train June 09, 2012 at 10:34 PM
That's sort of the point...why increase the number of people employed by the Village (and there equipment) to solve a problem that's only around a few months a year? Outsourcing to the landscapers gets the job done and doesn't burden the Village with permanent costs...
Oliver Train June 09, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Opps...wrong "their"
Wendy G June 09, 2012 at 11:07 PM
@Oliver...that is a great idea, but unfortunately not everyone can afford a landscaper
J.C. Lee June 09, 2012 at 11:48 PM
These are the types of sacrifices that people are going to have to be prepared to make in order to contain future tax increases. Regardless of what town each of us lives in, we are going to have learn to wean ourselves of these types of services and become more self sufficient. It’s irrelevant whether leaves are being collected by town workers or a contractor paid by the town there is still a cost to the taxpayer. At some point we have to realize that the more serves we demand the more we have to pay. It is time we stop catering to people and have true no frills local governments! Less government equals fewer taxes. But don’t think for a minute that you will not have to give up many of the concierge services we have all come to expect.
Oliver Train June 10, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I fully understand that not everybody has a landscaper. My point is that most landscapers, not just mine, don't carry the leaves away when they are done cleaning them up. The pack up their stuff and leave with their truck empty. If the Village paid for leaves from them (and I am talking a few dollars a cubic-yard or something like that), they would certainly take my leaves away. Where I think it gets interesting is what happens if my leaves don't fill the truck? Then they could pick up somebody else's on the way.
Boyd A. Loving June 10, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I personally believe the quantity of leaves deposited curbside has grown exponentially within recent years due to: 1) the increased number of residents who use landscapers instead of handling the task themselves (likely due to the increased number of dual income households and longer work days), and 2) the availability of power equipment such as backpack and push blowers, which make getting every leaf out to the street so much easier than via rake & broom. Hopefully this answers the question: "why all of a sudden . . . ?"
Boyd A. Loving June 10, 2012 at 12:58 AM
True; any Village employee assigned to perform a work task within a public roadway used by motor vehicles risks being hit by one. However, you asked me to cite an incident involving leaf collection activities and I did. There are several others in which front end loaders engaged in moving the huge piles struck other vehicles (moving and parked). The larger and heavier the piles, the higher the risk of personnel injuries or equipment accidents.
Long Time Resident June 10, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Mr. Loving, you only cited an incident where an employee was struck during the leaf collection process, however, you didn't provide any correlation to the employee being struck and the process of the collection of leaves. Without any direct evidence that the leaves in a pile or on the ground contributed to this accident you have not proven your case. In the absence of any evidence of this type how can you support your claim that leaf collection is a safety issue?
Michael Sedon June 10, 2012 at 02:49 AM
I like the idea Oliver. Give the landscapers, who are already here, an incentive to pick up leaves for the town. Not only would it cut down on overtime, but those workers who would normally spend their day picking up leaves could do something else in town.
Michael Sedon June 10, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I've really learned a lot about leaves in this discussion. I think I might mulch a little, get a burn barrel and fire some up, and if there's any left over after that I'll take the village up on its bag offer to round out the experience.
Boyd A. Loving June 10, 2012 at 03:36 AM
You're joking, are you not? The employee was struck by a driver who, in an attempt to avoid the large piles of leaves in the street being attended to by front end loaders and roll off container trucks, drove directly through a roadblock, then up onto the sidewalk where the worker was standing, and then drove off after running him over. That's quite enough proof for me that the current process is unsafe, thank you very much.
Long Time Resident June 10, 2012 at 04:50 AM
No Mr. Loving I am not joking. Did you speak to the driver and they told you this....or and is there a police report supporting your facts. Or did you arrive at these facts on your own. Using your logic about safety then trees and telephone poles must also be a hazard since many cars have had accidents with them over the years. Should we remove them from the side of the road since they present a clear and present danger? Hardly! Your logic is faulty at best.
Boyd A. Loving June 10, 2012 at 05:00 AM
http://www.northjersey.com/news/110411_Vehicle_strikes_Ridgewood_worker_doing_storm_cleanup.html http://ridgewood.patch.com/articles/dpw-worker-struck-by-car
Long Time Resident June 10, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Boyd Do you know how much this equipment costs? The video is a test for demonstration purposes. It moves slow for large amount of leaves and faster for moderate to small amounts of leaves. The bales can be dropped anywhere the operator decides to drop it. Since the machine chops the leaves before it bales them there will be less trucking of leaves to the dump because you can place more leaves in the back of a dump truck when the leaves are chopped up and compressed, saving fuel and wear and tear on the dump trucks.
James Bombace June 10, 2012 at 10:02 AM
I would bet you that these machines would cost less than the Tub Grinder we currently use to chop up the leaves. That is an expensive piece of equipment, costing $150,000.00 or more. The Tub Grinder has been a maintenance nightmare costing the town a lot of money. I believe this is a possible alternative to the Tub Grinder and as Long Time Resident said the leaves will take up less space chopped up making the number of trips to the Lakeview Dump site less then the numer of trips we do with the current system of leaf pickup. I was just making a suggestion, thinking outside of the box for a change.
James Jr. June 10, 2012 at 03:19 PM
@Boyd, That accident was caused by a careless drive who decided to drive on a sidewalk. This is not an epidemic. This driver probably would have pulled the same stunt avoiding a PSE&G roadblock and doesn't seem to be a correlation between storm pickup (wasn't the standard leaf pickup) and safety. I believe the current council is very trigger happy when events like this occur, but you have to put the event in perspective. Safety should always be a concern, however can't see how 1 horrible driver = bagging leaves. Not to repeat myself but this event occurred during the storm pickup after the rare October storm and not just a normal leaf pick up.
J.C. Lee June 10, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Whether services are provided by town workers (salary, pension and healthcare costs) or outsourced to a private company (personnel costs and profit for the business owner) there is still a price tag. As demand for private contractors increase so will the cost (supply and demand). The reduction of services provided will net a larger savings as it eliminates costs. We are far too reliant on government to nanny and cater to us. Without making real sacrifices and becoming more self sufficient there will never be any true savings. As the taxpaying public we all sing the tale of woe about high taxes but few of us are willing accept what needs to be done to eliminate expenses. This leaf collection issue is just one minuscule example of the larger issue.
jp1 June 10, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Remember at one time the village had private garbage collection and that did not wind up dong so well. Think twice about privatizing.
Boyd A. Loving June 10, 2012 at 07:46 PM
The post October 29th storm pickup and regular leaf pickup were one in the same last year; you can't expect a reporter who does not live within the Village to know that. Regardless, putting no debris in the street at any time, combined with reduced operating times for front end loaders and roll off trucks, significantly reduces the likelihood of accidents and injuries.
OHW June 10, 2012 at 09:58 PM
So let me understand. Taxpayers accept less service and pay more money for extra salaries and pensions, not for additional workers. How about looking for more creative ways to at least stop the slide? These aren't "concierge services" or weren't until benefits grew without limit or reason.
OHW June 11, 2012 at 01:00 AM
To reduce the total cost of services delivered, we can either reduce the number of units purchased or reduce the cost per unit. Before we purchase less, let's try buying more efficiently. Rather than deal with a monopoly (unionized) source of labor, creating some competition among contractors will certainly reduce the cost as an increase in demand will lead to an increased supply of service providers. Then we can decide whether it's appropriate to reduce services, if that's what we agree on.
James Kleimann June 11, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Think you've come up with a better plan? Pitch it. http://ridgewood.patch.com/articles/your-turn-develop-a-better-leaf-pickup-plan
Bob Hutton June 11, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Can anyone supply any statistical evidence? Since the storm was so BIG last October, what percentage of less leaves will the Village have going forward. In picking up bagged leaves, how much more volume will be generated due to the bag? I am going to assume that our current program can carry more leaves in a vehicle that are not bagged vs. bagged, therefore, more wear and tear on the trucks in the village. Each truck as a fixed capacity. How many landscapers service the residents of Ridgewood? Currently they blow the leaves into the streets. How many of them have hauling capabilities for leaves? Just some questions. Yes, I blow my leaves into the street. Fortunately for me I can simply dump them in my back yard.
KenC June 12, 2012 at 01:32 AM
So many people ranting about safety! Let's have our police tell us about accidents due to leaves in the street. Something tells me that if it was a problem, the local press would be all over the story. And for the people with safety concerns: You should favor closing Graydon Pool, where there are accidents and death.
KenC June 12, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Bob has the right idea about how to look at this. Let's see the evidence. Let's determine if there is a problem requiring a solution. And let's consider the plusses and minuses of the various solutions. And finally, let's make sure that solutions are not worse than the original problem! We don't want to move to bagging and find out next year that we need even more trucks to hold the bags plus the extra expense of buying the bags and the effort to do the bagging. Plus paying more to landscapers for the additional time to bag.
JB June 12, 2012 at 04:29 PM
What happens when that machine gets a branch or log that someone has hidden in the leaves. I'm sure it's not going to handle that.
KenC June 12, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Mary, I feel that you exaggerate when you say "You can hardly drive down some of the streets in the fall". We are all used to many times when we must drive around blocked lanes due to construction and maintainence in our town. That is the price we pay to live in a community which is maintained and enhanced. Similarly, life in our town offers many occasions where safety is at risk. The goal should be to balance all issues, including safety, quality of life and expense. Ignoring any of these things weakens anyone's argument (in my opinion). With that said, what evidence is there that kids have been injured from anything (including dog pee) with our current leaf collection method? If there are serious safety risks we should be concerned. But let's agree to consider this possibility based upon evidence.
Matt Gardner June 12, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Why doesn't the town encourage residents to compost their leaves, perhaps supplying a composting cage for yard debris? While this isn't a one size fits all solution, it could probably work fine for the majority of residents. Sure, it takes up a little space, but you'll end up with a nice pile of soil for the garden, and we won't have to pay to have trucks driving tons of leaves all over town. This could also be a good supplement to people who feel their yards would get clogged with using only mulching mowers.

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