Dan Rattiner's Stories

Southampton’s Plans for Autumn Leaves

In the fall, years ago, towns in the Hamptons just let the leaves fall to the ground. Those with landscaped yards complained. Why can’t we just rake them to the sides of the road? So the towns instituted a leaf pickup program. They’d make one pass in the fall, giving it lots of publicity ahead of time to make sure people knew what day it would be. Later, after a windy day on the day of leaf pickup, they decided that in future years they would hand out plastic bags at the town and village halls to those who wanted them. That worked better. Sort of. By the way, you can’t burn leaves in your yard as is allowed in many places elsewhere. It’s a fire hazard here. That’s what they decided all those years ago.

Now, in Southampton, things have gotten really complicated. Five years ago, they passed laws saying landscapers could not leave leaves in front of a home, and had to get a permit to take them to the dump. Many landscapers complied. Others just dumped leaves in empty lots. Did it on moonless nights, I guess. Then last year, for financial reasons, East Hampton abandoned its leaf pickup program, so on other moonless nights, all sorts of leaves now wind up all over the place in Southampton because the East Hampton residents bring them there. NOBODY wants the leaves. [expand]

This year, Southampton Village passed a law banning plastic bags. Now leaf bags made of paper—made from trees that produce leaves, it has not passed my notice—are being sold at various locations in Southampton. Finally, the Town Highway Department is trying to save money by spending less. Last year, they spent $1.2 million picking up leaves. This year they propose to spend only $700,000.

They’ll have fewer people out there doing the pickup. How will they arrange for there to be fewer leaves to pick up? Easy. They will offer free vouchers to the citizenry. Come in to town hall and pick up your free voucher. The voucher, once you have shown you are a town resident, will allow you to personally haul up to eight cubic yards of leaves in your paper bags up to some new transfer stations near  population centers that will be set up. Each will have a leaf compactor. There will be two stations in Bridgehampton, one in Noyac and one in North Sea.

All this requires a town board resolution. The town board is thinking about it. We’ll get those pesky leaves outta those yards one way or another. [/expand]

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