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.”