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Oct 12, 2010 6:04 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Bid To Bag Leaf Pickup

Oct 12, 2010 6:04 PM

Reactions to East Hampton Town’s proposal to eliminate leaf pickup this year were mixed at a hearing Thursday night at Town Hall, with some residents saying they just can’t cope with removing the sheer amount of leaves they get in the fall, and others applauding the cost-cutting move by the financially-strapped town.

“The hundreds and thousands of trips to the dump is a burden and eliminating the leaf pickup programs will create more problems than it will solve,” said Dan Cohen of Settlers Landing in East Hampton. “And what about those who can’t afford the landscapers’ fees of having the leaves hauled to the dump? The notion that the elderly and infirm will be helped by high school students, well, I think some skepticism is needed there.”

But Beverly Bond, of East Hampton, said the idea, which has been floated by Town Board members, of getting high school students to bag and haul leaves for community service credits was a “great way” for them to pitch in and help. “If we are going to be a community, we should act like one,” she said, adding that she supported the town’s cost-cutting move.

Elaine Jones of Amagansett, agreed and asked, “Why should taxpayers pay for taking away other people’s leaves?”

Until this year, Town Highway Department crews use dump trucks and payloaders pick up leaves raked to the side of roadways.

Under the new proposal, residents will be required to take their leaves to the town dump for disposal or hire someone else to do it, with an expected savings to the town of $570,000, according to Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson.

In the introduction to the tentative 2011 budget Mr. Wilkinson submitted to the Town Board on September 30, he stated that in light of the town’s “dire” financial picture, leaf collection is a program that has become a luxury. “We will be working with local volunteer groups and the town’s Community Service program to assist seniors in moving their leaves from their residences to the Town Recycling Center,” he wrote. “As in the past, residents can self-haul their leaves to the Recycling Center with no drop off fees.”

Superintendent of Highways Scott King said during the hearing that the town will save only $180,000 by eliminating the program because salaries and benefits of full-time employees would remain the same, regardless of what work they do.

One way residents are being encouraged to deal with their own leaves is by mulching them with a mulching mower and leaving a layer of mulch on the ground after they cut their lawns. Excess mulch can be raked into compost piles.

Brian Frank, an environmentalist with the Town Planning Department, said he’s encouraging residents not to remove leaves from their yards. “The best management now is to mow the leaves into the ground,” he said.

Natural Resources Director Larry Penny agreed that leaves can stay on the ground. “They decompose pretty rapidly,” he said.

But several residents said they had far too many leaves to mulch and compost, and questioned their own ability to haul bags and bags of leaves to the dump in their cars, which can’t hold the number of leaves that a truck could. They also balked at the expense of hiring landscapers to bag and haul away the leaves.

“Eliminating the leaf pickup is like adding a tax to me. I’m going to have to pay a landscaper thousands of dollars, and I don’t think it’s possible to mulch all the leaves that I have,” said Bill O’Brien, of Springs. He added that a lot of people will leave their leaves on the ground to blow around and, because the leaves often harbor deer ticks, add to the Lyme Disease problem. “You’re putting a financial burden on me and the people of this community,” he said.

Jennifer Brown, of Sag Harbor, testified tearfully to the board that leaving leaf debris around will generate more ticks. She said she almost lost a son to Lyme’s Disease.

“Does anybody know the severity of tick-borne illnesses?” she asked. “Well, I do.” She said several members of her family have gotten sick with Lyme Disease.

Eva Haughie, president of the Empire State Lyme Disease Association, and a resident of Manorville, said she traveled to the hearing because she wanted the public to know that leaving leaves on the ground attracts mice and other small mammals that carry the ticks. “This is the elephant in the room of this issue of eliminating leaf pickup,” she said.

Ellen Dooley, of East Hampton, agreed that leaving leaves around is a big health issue that encourages ticks. The federal Centers for Disease Control recommends removing leaves for this reason, she said. She also said that it was impractical to ask people to make the physical effort to bag their own leaves.

Former Highway Superintendent Chris Russo of Amagansett, who served in that role for 18 years, applauded the board’s decision to eliminate leaf pickup because it would give highway crews an extra two months to work on other projects, such as road repair. “You’ll take a lot of flak for this decision,” he told the board, “but it’s a wise one.”

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Re: Town leaf pick-up program --

Leaf It Alone!

Unbeleafable that any changes would be considered IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 14, 10 5:32 PM
I dont think Mr. Penny has any idea how many leaves some of us have to pick up. What exactly do I get for my taxes?
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Oct 14, 10 9:48 PM
If they don't mow your lawn why should they pick up your leaves?

Maybe you can get them to plow your driveway when they plow the roads.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Oct 14, 10 10:23 PM
How in the world are the elderly suppose to haul off their leaves? ditto- What do we get for our taxes?
By nurse (53), sag harbor on Oct 14, 10 10:12 PM
Attitudes in East Hampton have to change. The town is broke. Leaf pickup is a program that costs too much. Let the private sector pickup the leaves its cheaper for taxpayers and more efficient.

Something to think about from the guardian...
We should recognise that in our democratic culture, markets are very often a force for good. As the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek observed, markets are a bulwark against centralised bureaucracies that want to dictate how we should behave. ...more
By voter (33), Amagansett on Oct 15, 10 8:24 AM
If the town was truly "broke" would they have cut taxes? So many fools have fallen for the political B.S. set in front of them. East Hampton residents don't mind paying taxes for services and land preservation. We are now seeing that play out.
By phins (43), East Hampton on Oct 15, 10 9:17 AM
In short, rake up yor own leaves. The town does not cut my lawn nor should they pick up the leaves from the treas I decided to have on my property. Please...
By Dayo (33), Sag Harbor on Oct 15, 10 9:48 AM
I think you may have missed the Town Code as it relates to clearing. In East Hampton Town you must leave 50% of your property as natural vegetation, so therefore the Town has legislated that you have the trees on your property.
As for your lawn mowing argument it is pure nonsense, for no one expects the Town to mow their lawn or rake up their leaves, just to collect them from the curb as all other townships do. Of course Southampton fumbled that operation epically last fall.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Oct 15, 10 8:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
How many municipalities on LI, in NYS, for that matter throughout the USA pick up residents leaves? The answer is almost none. Its an expensive luxury and a relic. Putting aside the "cost - savings" dispute, the manpower time spent should be redirected to other needs within the highway dept.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Oct 15, 10 10:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
Wrong, most do. Some may require they be bagged, but they pick them up. Southampton, Brookhaven and Islip all do. Islip picks them up all year long if they are in bags.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Oct 15, 10 8:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
I think ice is missing the point. The old board has been replaced because it rang up massive debt. The new board is cutting everywhere. This Is what the people of east Hampton voted for not Southampton. The board is also getting flak for the proposed sale of property in montauk. The reality is people, land, and yes some services need to be cut in order to reduce the debt unless of course you have any other ideas.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Oct 17, 10 7:23 AM
I understand the point and that there are valid arguments for both sides of the issue, but zaz's statement: "How many municipalities on LI, in NYS, for that matter throughout the USA pick up residents leaves? The answer is almost none"
is factually incorrect so I pointed this out.

His opinion about leaf pick up being an expensive luxury is amusing and his opinion so I will leave it at that.

You are right that people, land and some services need to be cut. Leaf pickup was ...more
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Oct 17, 10 8:25 PM
So what do you propose they cut instead...a bunch of jobs
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Oct 18, 10 3:30 AM
Its nice to see that the cost of leaf pick-up is has gone from the original $570,000.00 to $180,000.00 as revealed by Scott King-albeit disconcerting that the new Sup doesn't seem to have any more command of the numbers than the last guy. What the town has not provided is a cost per household for this service. How many households in EH? If the no. of households is 20,000 then the cost of pick up to the town per household is only $9.00., at 10,000 it would be $18.00, or if there are only 5,000.00 ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Oct 15, 10 11:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
nothing against Scott king (he does a good job) but if you compared his education, experience and record I would trust Wilkensons numbers more.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Oct 18, 10 8:33 AM
...and after the earth shattering, baet that dead horse discussion about leaves that lasted 2 and a half hours and had speakers galore with a packed house at Town Hall, there was another important issue addressed. Now there were about a dozen people left in the room at nearly 10 pm, and we talked about the drinking water and perserving a special area in the woods of east hampton, in an over- crowded neighborhood. We talked about a builder who wants the Board to rezone, just for him, so he can build ...more
By honor trees (14), east Hampton on Oct 15, 10 3:48 PM
Are you talking about Mr. Webbs land on Oakview Hwy, abutting middle hwy? He tried to get an affordable housing complex in that area, and everyone knows just how badly that is needed, yet the neighbors shot it down. "Oh, we can't have poor bubbies around here! It will ruin the view of nothing with their boats and lawnmowers and such!" Don't blame him. Imagine owning so much property, and, God forbid, you want to use it to help hard working local people who, no matter what, can't afford a decent ...more
By RubyBaby (28), East Hampton on Oct 15, 10 11:45 PM
wilkilson like better to spend 30 millions ??????????????????to be prepare for a hurricane ??????which didn't happen???????? it is the way is saving money??????it's a joke it's pathetic get that idiot out
By dlb (21), sag harbor on Oct 16, 10 8:58 AM
Bring back mcgintee
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Oct 17, 10 7:14 AM
Yeah, sure. Bring back the crook McGuilty! I bet he STILL hasn't done wrong in YOUR eyes! If it weren't for him we would not be negotiating leaf pick up.
By localwater (35), east hampton on Nov 11, 10 2:27 PM
the town board needs to save that money to spend on the new office furniture computors and curtains and everything else that goes along with it for the great move into the new old town hall.business as usual.
By asurest (117), easthampton on Oct 16, 10 4:32 PM
You are incorrect. What do you suppose happen to the donated buildings for the new Town Hall? Scrap them and give the wood to the needy?
Some people, like you, just can't accept that McGuilty ran us into the ground. If he were to run again you'd probably vote for him. If it wasn't Wilkinson the more efficient Town Board moving into these buildings it would have been MCGuilty. But I guess you wouldn't have had a problem with the fact that CPF monies would have been used to purchase curtains and ...more
By localwater (35), east hampton on Nov 11, 10 2:30 PM
Hey asurest I believe the new hall building was a McGintee boooooooondogle. I hated to see the taxes on my East Hampton property go to that. I know someone who is moving into that new building. He told me his old computer is being moved over as are all of the computers, machines, tables and his old file cabinets. He said the joke going around East hampton town hall is these days is that in the move they found the original cost sheets in a file for the furniture the previous administration wanted ...more
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Oct 17, 10 9:47 AM
The pick-up the leaves or not to pick-up the leaves question? why should the residents of the town be treated fairly? the doughnuts eating workers in the town (most of whom post here) should pick up the leaves in thier off time out of the goodness of there hearts, thanking there lucky stars that they are not self-employed. A little give back would go a long way to mend fences.
By rrc1049 (63), Bridgehampton on Oct 17, 10 6:00 PM
you forgot to mention the 900.00 a piece pine desks on saw horses and the filing cabinets are new.go have a look the doors are open and they are moved in now
By asurest (117), easthampton on Oct 17, 10 7:36 PM
there are a boatload of zombies on this site would are begging to pay more in taxes. why don't you contact them, relieve them of their burdensome cash and let them pay for the leaf pick up.
By dylan32 (64), east hampton on Oct 18, 10 12:58 PM
Ruby Baby,
I am with your last paragraph 100%. As is the whole neighborhood group that has been trying to save the woods from further destruction and Upisland building sprawl. We love it here. We aren't the ones who are trying to change it.
The land in question does belong to Bud Webb. However, he was misinformed when he purchased it about several things. One, it is not in an affordable housing lot. That was moved and put in Springs. Two, he was not building anything affordable. That is ...more
By honor trees (14), east Hampton on Oct 18, 10 1:28 PM
To asurest. Sounds like a bargain compared to a $8000 desk that McGintee was going to buy. You describe a desk I saw advertised in the NY Times for $1,999. But the one in the Times was hand made. I assume the ones in East Hampton were bought out of a catalogue.
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Oct 18, 10 5:25 PM
no old pine left overs from the job hand made they actalually look nice they look like old doors set on saw horses.i guess thats cheap compared to 8000.00
By asurest (117), easthampton on Oct 18, 10 5:58 PM