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Apr 28, 2008 3:54 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Leaf collection policy angers some East Quogue residents

Apr 28, 2008 3:54 PM

A 56-year-old resident of a mobile home park said this week that the management company in charge of the Old Country Road property in East Quogue has inconvenienced him and his neighbors by changing its leaf removal policy.

Shaun Gerien, who lives on Cedar Street in the mobile home park named East Quogue Community, said that Stamford, Connecticut-based Garden Homes Management Corporation has made him and his neighbors do extra work to clean their properties this spring. Mr. Gerien, who has a heart condition called a thoracic aortic aneurysm, said he spent several hours last month moving leaves to the shoulder of Old Country Road, a town road near his development, only to be told a few days later that he needed to remove them or face a fine.

“It’s a bulge in the aorta that can cause sudden stress if it dissects, which could happen under stress, like raking leaves,” Mr. Gerien said about his medical condition. “It’s a deadly condition.”

But officials with the management company and the Southampton Town Highway Department explained this week that the town’s leaf collection crews have never been permitted to enter the mobile home park because it is considered private property. However, highway crews have traditionally collected leaves that some mobile home owners have placed on the shoulder of Old Country Road, a town road that intersects Cedar Street but is not on private property.

It now appears that the misunderstanding has led to a lot of extra work for Mr. Gerien and some of his neighbors.

In the fall, Mr. Gerien said he was able to place his loose leaves on the side of Old Country Road so town workers could remove them with a vacuum truck. He planned to do the same thing this spring after seeing a large advertisement in the April 10 edition of The Press announcing that the town’s spring cleanup, which includes leaf collection, was going to commence on April 14.

On April 17, Mr. Gerien said he placed his loose leaves on a tarp and dragged them to the side of Old Country Road, assuming that the town would be able to collect them. But after moving the leaves to the side of the road, Mr. Gerien said he was issued a notice from a building manager at the mobile home park on April 21 stating that he would be fined an undisclosed amount if he failed to remove the leaves.

It turns out that earlier this spring, Garden Homes Management Corporation officials had planted new grass and trees in the area where Mr. Gerien and some of his neighbors have traditionally placed their loose leaves.

“That strip of grass alongside Old Country Road is public property, but we maintain it,” said Diane Adamis, a employee with the management company. “If everyone who lives in the 102 trailers put out their leaves, it would kill the grass and create an eyesore, especially because Old Country Road is by the entrance to the community.”

Instead, Ms. Adamis explained that the mobile home park has a garbage removal contractor, Crown Sanitation, that collects leaves as long as they are placed in bags. She said her company offers curbside pickup for garbage removal and that trailer owners need only to bag their leaves. Crown Sanitation collects leaves every Friday, according to George Buckingham, the resident manager of the East Quogue Community.

Mr. Gerien, who said he was not aware of the service, noted that it is more difficult for him to bag the leaves than simply transport them, via a tarp, to the side of Old Country Road. Mr. Gerien said he was forced on April 22 to move his leaves a second time, place them in plastic bags and move them in front of his mobile home. The bags were later collected by the contractor.

Mr. Buckingham said he was surprised to learn that the town had picked up the leaves in the fall. He added that only a few trailer owners have put out their leaves on Old Country Road in the past.

Southampton Town Highway Department Superintendent Bill Masterson explained that mobile trailer parks are considered private property and, therefore, municipal crews are not responsible for collecting leaves and brush during its spring and fall cleanups. He did note that workers have traditionally collected leaves that have been placed along Old Country Road, near the mobile home park.

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