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New Ridgewood Council Kills Leaf Collection Plan

Residents won't be forced to bag their own leaves after the council determined the idea too burdensome for citizens.

A proposal to was deemed too burdensome by the new Ridgewood council, which instructed staff to return to the drawing board.

Village Streets Department head John Spano and Director of Operations Frank Moritz appealed to the previous council in June with a plan that touted improved for residents and workers and also one of potentially lower costs. There was one important caveat, however.

"What we've proposed and put together is all leaves would be picked up and contained in paper bags," Moritz said in June. "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."

Logistical issues like determining whose leaves were whose, traffic issues, as well as cascading costs many would have to pay for landscapers were among the deal breakers, Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh said.

"If we go to this policy without finding the added costs for the residents, the time consumption of the residents to now bag it, I'm really concerned this is going to cause some unrest in the village," she added.

Deputy Mayor Al Pucciarelli said the pitch would be highly laborious for residents, many of whom would need to now spend hundreds on a landscaper.

To that point, said one resident, the bagging system would require two people – one to blow the leafs into the bag and another to hold the bag.

"I just don't see how it's going to work," Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck said of the plan. "My solution is to ticket and fine people for not putting leaves out on time."

She suggested adding some teeth to enforcement – $50 and $75 summonses for those caught breaking the rules.

Still, the and there are absolutely safety issues involved, according to Councilman Tom Riche. A last fall and streets are often reduced to the size of alleyways due to leaf piles.

"The issue is we don't have the resources or the dollars to clean every street every week," Riche said. "I think it's incumbent on this group to come up with some alternative that's going to improve the quality and the safety issue in the village...I'd like to see a different proposal."

Mayor Paul Aronsohn suggested the village staff present another plan to the council for consideration.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Lisa Ertle July 12, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Boyd, put on your thinking cap and construct alternative solution! You can do it. You've got the knowledge of the financial and physical resources AND the time.
Boyd A. Loving July 12, 2012 at 11:33 AM
If more residents would consider mulching their leaves in place, that would significantly reduce the number and size of the leaf piles at curbside. Also, if landscapers were provided with some sort of incentive to transport leaves to the Village's compost center on Lakeview Drive, that would help tremendously as well. I completely agree with Councilman Riche; the current process is a failure.
RdgwdGRock July 12, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Boyd - I have seen the machines used to collect the leaves. They need the mass of the leaves in order to push into piles, scoop up and then dump into a dump-truck. Mulching the leaves will make it hard to collect the piles. What about the alley-ways created by plowed snow piles? If people would slow down and use common sense when driving, there would be none of this reactionary nonsense.
rich July 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Biggest issue was that they did not follow the schedule. I put leaves out for the right week, but they did not show up. 3 weeks later they finally came by, but by then, it was a huge mess. Follow the schedule so we know when to put the leaves out.
James Jr. July 12, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I agree with Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck that part of the solution is to enforce the 7 day placement of leaves. Too often people put large piles of leaves minutes after the schedule pickup occurred. Then that pile remains until the next pickup.
RdgwdGRock July 12, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Rich - you are correct. I did not "...put large piles of leaves minutes after the schedule pickup..." as noted below. It seems that the schedules, at times. at the village site are mere suggestions.
Harlan Consider July 12, 2012 at 01:39 PM
And often put out after the last scheduled pickup, which means the Village then has to do additional non-budgeted pickups.
Boyd A. Loving July 12, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I suggested leaves be mulched and left in place, not blown to the curb.
James Kleimann July 12, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Here are some resident suggestions: Moist Cake 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. Ara Hourdajian 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. Rock 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. limabean 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.
James Kleimann July 12, 2012 at 02:39 PM
And the link: http://ridgewood.patch.com/articles/your-turn-develop-a-better-leaf-pickup-plan Any new ideas, folks?
RdgwdGRock July 12, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Boyd, you say "I suggested leaves be mulched and left in place, not blown to the curb". This has been discussed previously, in that some of us have way too many leaves to mulch and leave in-place. To reiterate, if you would like to stop by and take my leaves so that you can mulch and put on your lawn, then you are welcome. Otherwise, stop with the tired suggestion.
Anne LaGrange Loving July 12, 2012 at 02:46 PM
It seems to me that one of the problems is that so many people hire landscapers who use their super-powered blowers to create monster piles of leaves. Those who rake their own leaves, or use the smaller (homeowner size, not the commerical ones) blowers wind up with smaller piles. Why do people think that every single leaf has to be removed their lawns and flower beds? Whereas I realize that yard work is not possible for some people to manage, due to health or aging issues, for many of us it is simply good exercise. People could save on gym fees while raking leaves, they could save a bundle by not paying landscapers, their leaf piles on the street would be smaller and easier for the Village workers to manage, and their lawns and gardens would be enriched by the organic material from the leaves left behind.
RdgwdGRock July 12, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Anne - I rake my own leaves, and view the chore as part of my overall exercise routine. The leaf blowers should be banned; they are annoying.
AMAMOM July 12, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Leaf removal is a municipal issue. Please lets remove any social engineering from the solutions. It is not our place to tell others how they should spend their time, money or determine others exercise plans or lack thereof. I don't want the government telling me how much salt I can use, how large my soda can be and I don't want my neighbors telling me how to manage my private property. Let's leave the passive aggressive remarks to the side and not make this another have's vs. have less argument. Do what works for you but don't push your personal budget decisions on the rest of us.
Anne LaGrange Loving July 12, 2012 at 03:46 PM
AMAMOM - I was making an observation and offering an opinion. This is in keeping with blog discussions. I was not turning this into a "haves vs. have less" argument. Many who can afford landscapers opt not to use them. And let's note that - unlike you - I am not making aggressive comments while passively hiding behind an anonymous moniker.
Jill Feeney July 12, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Exactly. Plus, I think we should employ the plans implemented by some of our neighboring towns and change garbage pick-up in the fall. Maybe change bulk to once a month or backyard collection to once a week. This would free-up the department to pick up the leaves according to schedule.
Catherine Donnelly July 12, 2012 at 04:21 PM
A few years ago I looked at my front yard and said to myself that I was way too lazy to rake the leaves so I decided to lawnmower them. When I finished I stepped back and said, "Whoaa, that looks pretty good". Grass was tidy and leaves were gone. Clearly I still had to schlepp the leaves from under the shrubbery and grill etc out to the street, but my leaf pile was a pretty minor issue. I would guess that most landscapers could do the same and then the overall quantity of leaves in the street would be much less for the pick up people and for the cars to navigate around. I later read that what I had done was a good way to amend the soil and, as its been front yard soil since 1905, and no doubt very depleted, it seemed like a great bonus. So that's my plan for this year and I'm sticking to it. That gives me plenty of time to think about how not to get hit while crossing a Ridgewood street without cell phone in hand, with a wave to the oncoming driver and with all other due regard for personal safety.
RdgwdGRock July 12, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I am now bottling some new whines (sic); the first one is called Boyd 2012. However, after a taste test it was sour
Boyd A. Loving July 12, 2012 at 04:58 PM
“He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one; Exceedingly wise, fair-spoken and persuading; Lofty and sour to them that loved him not; But to those men that sought him sweet as summer.”
In The Wood July 12, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I used to have the time to rake my yard out to the street. I had the same amount of leaves that my landscaper now puts to the curb. I also mulched with my mower when there were limited leaves (as does my landscaper). Sometimes there are just too many (2-3 inches) leaves on the ground to mulch properly and they need to be brought to the street. Some folks have more leaves than others. Do I have a solution, no, not really. But you can't say what works for one will work for all.
Paul July 13, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Anne & Boyd Mulch Burgers for everyone! Enjoy Ridgewood, mulch your leaves, walk your dogs, and don't run over any kids this year.In case everyone has forgoten, last year we had a major event called Snowtober!! Were all of us put our trees and branches in front of our homes thinking this great town would pick it up the next week. O.K. thats over with thank goodness! But now just stick to what has worked over the past years. Just Inform the People of this town when the leave removle is to happen 2 weeks ahead of time and NO PROBLEM!!
KenC July 13, 2012 at 01:18 AM
From what I can tell, this issue is with us because of the aftermath of the freak halloween storm last year. The delay in collecting the leaves and even the unfortunate injury to the village worker was due to storm clean up. We need to admit that the village's response to that storm was poor. And we need to improve our response to such emergencies. But radical changes to leaf collection is another thing altogether. The council now agrees that moving to leaf bagging is a bad idea with significant financial and logistical problems. In spite of the mountains of leaves, I don't have any problem with the current leaf collection routine. If we need additional leaf collection, I agree with Jill Feeney that we could cut back some garbage collection and shift resources to leaves.
Kathy July 13, 2012 at 02:50 AM
I agree that a. the village needs to adhere to the published schedule and inform citizens if the schedule is revised, b. change the fall/winter recycling/bulk/sanitation collection schedule to allow for more frequent pick-ups or at least more equipment available to do the pick-ups more quickly, c. enforce the ordinance re: the schedule and d. change the pick-up pattern zones to prioritize higher-trafficked areas, particularly around the schools, where leaf piles create walking and parking hazards for children and their parents in already over-crowded areas.
george ackerman July 13, 2012 at 01:12 PM
As a homeowner, I am amazed, as how well the current system works The skillful manner in which the leaves are picked up in bulk at curbside is remarkable. I think the current system only needs a tweak. I would suggest more frequent pickups later in the season, which would go quicker each time, eliminating the very big piles each time, and would allow the pickup to proceed quicker each time. We don't need any massive change, just a bit of fine tuning to already stellar system.
thetentman July 13, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I am so happy that they "bagged" the bagging proposal. I was going to take down all my leaf bearing trees and in the Fall I was going to take my blower and blow concentric circles around my house to remove all my neighbors leaves. No bagging for me. No siree! As a former landscaper and current homeowner I do have some thoughts on the issue. It is not practical to blow leaves into a bag. At some point they need to be hand packed. It is a lot of work and if you have to pay someone to do it the expense will be greater than putting them in the street unbagged and it will be time consuming. Mulching is great if there are not too many leaves. Many spots in town have too many leaves to make this practical. I think that the current method of scheduling pick ups is the best way to do it. However you need to create a realistic schedule based on the available manpower. There also needs to be a reserve capacity of manpower to assist when the crews fall behind. End Part 1
thetentman July 13, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Part 2 Ridgewood Leaf Problem Fine those who put their leaves in the street at improper times. And in addition make them pay for the cleanup of their leaves which should be collected at the end of the week at overtime rates. This should teach those leafy miscreants by hitting them in their wallets. Oh and if we are banning things because they are annoying, Ridgewood Guy 12 has got to go. You can have my blower when you rip it out of my cold dead hands. LOL. I also have raked and blowen many leaf piles. The only reason piles are bigger with a blower is that you tend to collect more of them than by raking. You will take more leaves out of a garden or shrubs with a blower because it is easier and faster. That the characteristics of piled leaves would change due to blowing or raking is .....absurd. See you in the Fall. cheers,
Anne LaGrange Loving July 13, 2012 at 10:50 PM
You got your wish, thetentman - Ridgewood Guy 12 is gone. He has changed his name and photo to another anonymous handle
James Kleimann July 14, 2012 at 05:15 AM
A comment was deleted. No name-calling. I don't ask for much.

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