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Town Supervisor Weighs Leaf Bagging and Mulching

The Greenburgh Town Board is seriously considering a change in our leaf collection process for 2012. We are considering a requirement that leaves be bagged instead of picked up at the curb.

There are a number of reasons for this. Our leaf collection process has never been efficient. It's also extremely expensive. Most years, we don't complete the leaf pick up season until early January (although most of the leaves are picked up by December). This year, because of the October storm, we are backlogged with leaves and tree branches.

As of today, we probably completed half the town. Our crews are working on Saturdays (this Saturday will be the third overtime Saturday for leaf pickup). We have sanitation and highway crews working until it gets dark every day - expanding their hours (also an overtime expense). We eliminated a recycling week to also expedite the pickup.

Despite our efforts, we don't anticipate completing all the leaf and debris pickup until mid-late January (if it doesn't snow). If it does snow, the leaves and debris will be on the ground until the spring.

I was speaking to a sanitation crew in the Mayfair/Knollwood section of town yesterday. One of the crew members told me that it takes 15 minutes to pick up one pile of debris.

The villages of Ardsley and Elmsford (among other neighboring communities) have required bagging of leaves for a number of years. I spoke with Mayor Robert Williams of Elmsford last night. They were able to reduce overtime expenses (only one Saturday) and their leaf/debris season is finished.

The equipment we use damages curbs, roads and shortens the lifespan of our roadways, costing you more money because we have to repave roads and fix more curbs sooner. The leaves that pile up for months cause drainage problems. The drains become covered, increasing the chances of flooding and becoming a dangerous condition to vehicles and pedestrians. Residents also put twigs, limbs, bricks and garbage in the loose leaf pile making it necessary for employees to take additional time to separate the leaves from other debris before taking the leaves to the local nursery. Residents complain that neighbors' leaves blow onto their property. The leaves on the roads create safety obstructions and limit parking.

If residents are required to bag their leaves, more people would mulch their leaves. Mulching leaves is very inexpensive and is good for the lawns. There is absolutely no reason why landscapers should not mulch leaves. We are throwing away your tax dollars on a service that could be cut back with little impact to you and your family.

I have received many emails (which I would be happy to share with you) from residents who have had very positive experiences with mulching over the years. I attended a meeting of the Town Supervisors Association on Monday. Many of the supervisors complain that landscapers are illegally dumping piles of leaves and debris on the streets when no one is looking because it saves them money. If leaves are bagged, fewer leaves from other localities will be illegally dumped in our town. Your tax dollars are going to pick up some leaves and debris from other localities in all probability.

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