Proposed Change for New Rochelle Leaf Bagging Fails

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In the May 16, 2014 issue of Soundview Rising

It didn't take long for a New Rochelle City Council member to have second thoughts about his vote on April 17 to approve the new leaf collection law. The law now requires residents to either place leaves in bags or containers for weekly collection. "Mulching of leaves" was suggested as an alternative to bagging. But there was a troubling comment made at the April hearing by the former City Manager Peter Korn who felt this law could triple the homeowner's costs of collecting leaves. Only Councilman Barry Fertel had voted against this new leaf collection law because he felt it created a "financial and physical burden" for homeowners.

However, it was not just the cost of this new leaf collection law that bothered Trangucci. Admitting he voted too fast to approve the new law, he explored whether "seasonal workers" would be hired for these new leaf bag collections. Further he stated he "made a mistake on the vote" for the new leaf collection process. Alternatively, he proposed the new collection process should only be for a three week period this fall to determine if this change would be effective. Right away City Manager Chuck Strome disagreed because he felt the needed equipment would be mobilized for this pick up and the subsequent de-mobilizing would create a serious problem. Trangucci continued by making a motion to try this new system in the fall "for one pick-up" cycle and Fertel seconded it, thus allowing discussion on the proposal.

Immediately Mayor Noam Bramson insisted that Trangucci's proposal was not a good idea. New Rochelle, he continued, can learn from other communities and confusion would be created by a trial period. He said a public mulching campaign has worked in other communities. Trangucci answered he was concerned about the workload for the men who would have to lift so many heavy bags of leaves and may consequently end up on disability. Public Works Commissioner, Alex Tergis, said he had been in other communities where it worked. Councilman Al Tarantino felt the program should be looked at as a pilot program which could be adjusted next year. Councilman Ivar Hyden did not want to confuse the public with this proposed three week trial. Councilman Jared Rice felt some residents may not comply in a trial program.

By a six to one vote Trangucci's motion was defeated. The general sentiment that prevailed was that the plan that had been approved was going to be used, but it could be revisited in the fall.

The evening at the Citizens to Be Heard portion of the City Council meeting there were proponents of mulching and leaf bagging from other communities, but gardeners and New Rochelle residents created a chorus of negative views about the need to use leaf bags. The first resident to speak said mulching can only be used up to a point. More than one gardener explained how bagging leaves is a high cost activity. White Plains gave up bagging because it did not work. One resident recounted how the city originally had four men on a sanitation truck and one man would go into the back yard to get the garbage. A change was made and residents had to bring the garbage to the curb, leaving only three men on a truck. Now, additionally, homeowners have to pay a garbage fee.

James O'Toole summed up when he spoke. He said Councilman Barry Fertel was right when he voted against the bagging of leaves. He concluded, I wouldn't want to be there "when residents find out they have to bag their leaves."

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Bob McCaffrey on Fri, 05/23/2014 - 15:58

Many are concerned about the workload for the men who would have to lift so many heavy bags of leaves and may consequently end up on disability. I would be and am concerned for the safety of our manpower as well. I was OSHA trained and was a distribution supervisor that dealt with driver safety training. There are three men on the truck. I would rather look to add seasonal workers when the load is too much to handle than what we currently have now. Three men driving around town with not much to do because many of the gardeners and residents become lazy and start putting the leaves right to the curb rather than continuing to bag while there is still pick up every week. The workers never complain when they don’t have enough work when they finish their routes. We also lack a time management system to track the time and manpower usage and efficiencies. We have new management; we need new contracts and a new work environment for management and the rank and file. I would say that we have seen some changes since Alex Tergis started.

If bagging started at the beginning of the season there wouldn’t be as many bags to pick up each week. Granted, some homes have more than others and adjustments in routine would need to be done by the home owners and gardeners alike.

What do you see now at the beginning of the season as you drive through New Rochelle? Seasonal Clean-Up! For several weeks now, gardeners and residents have been doing spring clean-up and bagging the yard waste or the gardeners are putting the yard waste in the back of their trucks. Take a look while you drive around town. Gardeners and residents would be required to do the same in the fall, no major difference. To make sure, we should monitor the yard waste produced in the spring and compare it to the fall numbers and see what the two seasons produce. Then see the difference and make some choices.

We need to work through this with upfront communication and transparency so the public doesn’t get bamboozled by the City of New Rochelle or The Gardeners. Any cost savings need to go right to the taxpayers and not be disguised as yet another fee in lieu of taxes. As stated, put the savings in a fund that would be there in escrow if you will, in case the plan doesn’t work and expenses need to be adjusted. When the plan is final and up and running as a proven program, use the savings to offset the costs to taxpayers.

Besides, you can do your own yard work without the gardeners, your wallet and your health would be much better off! Happy Memorial Day:):)

Dennis Orzo on Tue, 05/20/2014 - 15:08

I have read a number of articles regarding the new leaf law in New Rochelle and there are a few things which are unclear. I have read that bagged leaves will be picked up once every two weeks and have also read that they will be picked up once a week. Do we know which of these statements is correct? If it is every two weeks, does that include all other yard waste? I have read that yard waste and leaves should not be comingled so I assume normal yard waste will be handle differently. Is that correct? I have also read leaf bags can only be put out at the curb on the day they are to be picked up. Does that mean we will have to find a place to store the leaf bags on our property and then haul them out to the curb on pick up day? That may have been an easy thing to do for a homeowner when only one yard waste bag was involved but thirty or more bags could prove to be quite a chore during the fall especially when they are wet. I know for myself it will prove to be an interesting physical and physics problem since I have less than three feet of curb space and stacking thirty bags may go well into the middle of the street.

I realize there is an option to mulch the leaves in place and it is unclear to me that anyone did any research on how this will affect the deer tick population. I am sure most people know that deer ticks live under leaf litter because it is moist. To control deer ticks it is recommended to keep lawns free of leaf litter. Has anyone checked with the CDC or other authorities with regards to leaving leaf litter on our lawns and the potential to increase the deer tick population?

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