In the May 30, 2014 issue of Soundview Rising
The leaf bagging saga in New Rochelle continues as at the last City Council meeting the representatives hired by the City Council to conduct an informational campaign were presented with a series of challenging questions.
The educational campaign was financed by the council which voted to amend this year's budget to include the needed $100,000; $75,000 was set aside for The Harlequin Creative Group for project design and management along with "messaging" and deliverables (signs, mailings etc.) and $10,000 for the Greenburgh Nature Center for education and mulch mowing outreach. This left $15,000 for contingencies
This City Council motion authorized this expenditure from the 2014 budget with an offset to save the city $100,000 in leaf collection costs since residents would be forced to either bag or mulch their leaves.
New Rochelle's Communication and Marketing Manager Kathy Gilwit said the campaign process for this legislation. First there would be a post card announcement; second, a substantive mailing; and lastly, a reminder; lawn signs could be included. She advocated a creative, innovative approach, adding an "a la carte" menu could be used and the campaign could be "creative and innovative."
Fred and Sherry Bruck of Harlequin Creative Group answered an assortment of questions by council members. Likewise, Virginia Picciotta explained the leaf mulching process which will be an the outreach program to residents if they have questions about mulching.
Councilwoman Shari Rackman brought up the first difficulty with this new "bagging leaves' law." Her district is mostly in the 10583 zip code group, and she noted, many houses in her zip code are in Scarsdale proper and those residents would not want this mail. She also felt the letter carrier may deliver this mail when he "feels like" doing it.
Councilman Lou Trangucci was the only one to oppose this budget allocation for the educational campaign legislation because he said residents' concerns had not been addressed. Suggestions were made that residents should take advantage of the demonstrations on mulching in September and October. The information and complaint line are also planned to be responsive to residents' needs and problems.
Trangucci persisted saying that there are going to be many angry people. He was told 15-20 minutes were being set aside for each call when residents called with complaints. Since it had been suggested that violators would not be punished until next year, Trangucci wanted to know if residents would be told about this enforcement difference. City Manager Chuck Strome said violators would be given two or three warnings, for example, to remove piles of leaves (in the street). Giving only warnings this year in his view would create difficulties next year.
Although the City Council has hired a firm to conduct a public information campaign, residents may feel confused by the budget projections. Initially savings of $250,000 were suggested. This amount was attributed to the present costs of curb pick-up of leaves. When Councilman Al Tarantino and Trangucci asked if this money could be used to reduce the refuse fee, the answer was it only came out to $15 a resident.
Trangucci, the only Councilman to oppose this budget legislation, told the Rising Media group that he is in favor "green" improvements, but not when there is going to be a cost to the taxpayers and mulching of leaves would have to be l00% to be considered a "green project."
Under this City Council plan the residents will probably mulch about 20% of their leaves.