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.
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