Leaf Piles Create Driving And Safety Hazards

Clarkstown board members discuss meeting with landscapers to address problems presented by fallen leaves and tree branches piled in the streets


New City resident Frank Grandel complained to the Clarkstown Town Board about the great number of town residents who do not pile their leaves and branches on their property as required but place them in the street.  Grandel said it creates driving hazards because they reduce the width of the streets and drivers cannot see the leaf piles in the dark.  He asked why the police department was not issuing summonses.

Hurricane Sandy brought down a tremendous number of trees and branches in town and cleared trees of most of their leaves in just one day. Grandel’s protests lead to a discussion among town board members and other town officials about getting homeowners and landscapers to comply.  Councilmember Shirley Lasker suggested the board hold a workshop to discuss the problem.

“I’m recommending that we have a meeting and discuss this,” said Lasker.  “I really think this is a hazard and we can do more to correct it.”

Highway Department Superintendent Wayne Ballard said the amount of leaves collected by the town annually has increased dramatically from 30,000 cubic yards about 10 years ago to 70,000 cubic yards. Ballard said the highway department has collected about 10 percent of the yard waste from the storm so far.  The state transportation department helped by hiring contractors to clear 30 of the worse streets in town.  That work began over the past weekend.

Ballard agree with Lasker that they should meet with landscapers.  Although landscapers can drop off the yard waste at county facilities for free, they charge customers an additional fee to remove it from the property. Ballard predicted that the landscapers who comply with the regulations will want assurances that those firms that do not face consequences.

“So we need to do something about it,” said Ballard. “I think as Shirley said there are just going to be more frequent storms coming our way and we need to do something about it.”

Town  Zoning & Code Enforcement Officer Joel Epstein, said he does call landscapers when he receives the names of companies.

“We do get complaints fielded from the highway department, police department, residents,” Epstein said.

Ballard said things could get even worse because the leaves in the street will create more difficulties if the temperature drops below freezing and they freeze to the surface. 

michael November 21, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Hey Frank maybe you shouldn't drive during the few weeks out of the year if you are having that much of an issue with piles of leaves narrowing the road. Maybe if people learn how to drive it wouldn't be such a issue. Like few people stated we don't want the leaves on are lawn cause by the time the leaves get picked up the grass is already damaged and why should over taxed tax payers have to spend more $$$ to repair.
Steve November 21, 2012 at 01:43 PM
This is almost laughable. Every year I drive thorugh Clarkstown and see the leaves all the way into December. Not because they were place there but because they were not picked up. It is not this year because of the Hurricane but every year because the town takes too damn long to pick them up
paul lauro November 21, 2012 at 02:15 PM
leaves should not be in the street !
frankie g November 21, 2012 at 02:17 PM
First let me respond that any topic i wish to speak out on is not representative or the views of the Clarkstown Taxpayers. Personally to me ,this is a safety hazard to all. The vehicle and traffic law states No debris is to be placed in the roadways. This is not only for safety but this debris will end up in our storm sewers creating additional costly work to clean them out and flooding issues. but then i guess you prefer to compound and exacerbate the problem then to have your little grass blades and noses bent out of shape , Try mulching your leaves instead of having another costly town service pick them up. Then complain it,s not delivered fast enough to you This way you can keep your little man made" not natural" mini-golf course lawns
Elaine Brown November 21, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Leaves should be viewed as a valuable soil enrichment. Lawn services and homeowners can choose to mow the leaves for the benefit of the soil. Leaves can be stockpiled at home and business as brown (carbon) for addition to compost piles throughout the year. Leaves that owners don't want should be bagged. It takes less time and equipment in pick up than the piles. Bags should be placed on one's own property not in the street. Leaves in the street present a safety problem for school children walking to and from the bus, walkers and bicyclist. In addition, if rains come while leaves are in the street, storm drains are clogged and streets flood posing additional hazards. Let''s look at this opportunity as one to improve safety, protect water quality, reduce the carbon footprint in Clarkstown, and contain costs at the Highway Dept.
Odd Job November 21, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Let's see, what was discussed last night... Steve Levine brought up the charges that the Town of Clarkstown and ultimately the taxpayers get to foot to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars a year for Zoning issues, Barry Goldberg is ready to take legal action towards the Town of Clarkstown for some "landfill issue" on his Massachusetts Ave property that was started over a decade ago, a senior citizen was discussing harrassment and abuse of resources by a Town Board member and Patch decides to report on a bunch of leaves in the street and leave it at that. Do yourself a favor and go to the Town Meeting and don't rely on the one thing that is reported here.
Odd Job November 21, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Also, there Solar Project for Clarkstown Landfill was discussed and so was some Laser Police Shooting range that are going to be moved foward on.
Lynn Teger November 21, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Clarkstown just passed a 6.2% tax increase. Meanwhile, at last night's town board meeting, a Resolution was passed to pay the town’s consultant, Cambridge Systematics, which has studied the state highway corridors through Clarkstown, an additional approximately $133,000 to complete the comprehensive plan with regard to transportation systems in the County. No public participation regarding the passing of this resolution or the many other resolutions passed, was permitted.
VinnyfromCongers November 21, 2012 at 03:03 PM
When the roads get blocked by leaves-I have only seen this in New City-take a town pick up truck with a plow and shove the leaves back onto the lawns. No fine will be necessary.
Clarkstown life November 21, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Great Job Highway Department workers...the hard working citizens of Clarkstown appreciate the job you do...keep up the good work
Lady Madonna November 21, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I would hate for Mr. Grandel to have to slow down to drive the posted speed limit. Honestly, people fly through mine, and probably every other residential neighborhood in Clarkstown. The slowest that cars drive all year, is when there are leaves in the street! I guess we should also not let cars park on the street either, right?
Tom November 21, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Let's not blame the Highway Department because town residents choose to ignore the law. Every year, yes every year, the town send out the pick-up schedule with a reminder that it is AGAINST THE LAW to pile leaves in the street, so this has very little to do with Sandy cleanup. The law exists for safety reasons, so enforce the law. Those who are crying about not having the leaves on their precious lawns...just bag the leaves, mow them into the ground, or just pay your service to take the leaves with them, but let's not put drivers, pedestrians, school kids, pets, bicyclists, etc. at risk for the sake of not covering a few square feet of grass.
Bradley Jensen November 21, 2012 at 06:05 PM
I think thet everbody needs to be reminded that is is *not* only leaves. You have a great deal of storm debris that needs to be picked up and like I said in my above post, the town needs to bring in more resources to get this done. The whole situation will get much worse if it rains (and then freezes) or begins to snow. Where's Albany?
Tom November 21, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Albany might be a little occupied with restoring fundamental services to coastal towns obliterated by Sandy. Removing unsightly mountains of tree debris should not be a priority spend of our tax dollars. I'd suggest that anyone who can't tolerate the debris on their property (or per this thread, more likely piled in the street) can call a private hauler to take it away.
stephany November 21, 2012 at 08:08 PM
given the way CHD picks up debris with the claw tool and a dumpster it is infinitely easier for the workers,term used loosely, to have it in the street than on the lawn. same goes for branches. of course the process is flawed due to the amount of trucks-trailers required to drive the equipment and employees from place.never mind loading and unloading off the trailers. and when it is time to dump the load it is officially break time,again, for all but the driver who may be gone for a long time, but 1/2 hr or so minimum.they are in no hurry.. OT is key. get it while it's hot. it may not snow this year too.never know. Ballard should post on the CHD webpage what streets his chd workers did every day. how many crews and how many blocks each. reality check.
David P November 22, 2012 at 12:50 AM
If we are addressing the hazards of living in this community, how about we address them all? Hey here's a novel idea: how about we put the cell phones down while we are driving, put two hands on the wheel so we can maneuver around those leaves properly?
B John November 22, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Hey how about Ballard spends 99 cents on a ruler and creates a no grass taller than 3 inch's rule. We can pay the highway dept $37 per hour to drive around and measure lawns. Than we can pay the cops 188k a year to screw the tax payer's more by writing $100 fines for not mowing their lawns properly. .... Wake up kuckleheads! Get your crews on the road and monitor their daily performance. Better yet outsource it to a landscaping company.
frankie g November 22, 2012 at 03:07 AM
FYI When i foiled the highway dept two years ago ,i was told it cost us almost $1.5 million to pick up leaves over a six week period Salaries,overtime ,fuel use and alot of equipment dedicated to this luxury,seems absurd. The volume has increased by possibly 25% since. Growing up here,property owners took responsibility for their leaves by either burning or mulching them. Burning is off the table now,Mulching is not. If you have the money to pay a landscaper to blow them around for you and your concerned about your grass ,then pay to have them hauled away. Don't create another problem and jeopardize the safety of others. I am not looking to penalize anyone here ,just educate. Why should everyone provide this subsidy or entitlement you feel you have coming because your taxes are high already. This feeding frenzy of entitlements just creates more in taxes I am after government cost reductions , not support your perceived entitlements. .Better to start eliminating a luxury Take responsibility for your own leaves and lets adjust to some responsible spending for a change Again,if my tax dollar needs to be spent, then spend it on safety and investments rather than on another gov't entitlement. Stop with this I want, I want, give me mentality. Finally,I hate responding to ali-asses but the above is to good to not pass up.To suggest leaves in the road are an asset to help with traffic speed control is just beyond belief.and shows us all you don't have any shred of credibility
Andromachos November 22, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Beware, in Clarkstown, it is not permitted to park on the street between midnight and 6 am from November 15 to April. Clarkstown Code 278-11(H)(1).
Andromachos November 22, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Good call Mr. g. Not being from Clarkstown (and coming from a place where we were responsible for our own leaf removal, I always found public leaf disposal pretty decadent. It is certainly not a necessity. The Town doesn't shovel my front walk or mow my lawn, why should it take away the leaves? Budget item to cut No. 1.
fred November 22, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Whaaaaaa the leaves are in the road.just because the same 7or8 crybabies don't like it means nobody should like it.
Andromachos November 22, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Whether one likes it or not, leaf removal is an immense waste of tax dollars, $1,500,000.
Lynn Teger November 22, 2012 at 06:04 PM
What about the $133,000 they are paying Cambridge Systematics for the comprehensive plan. Do you think that's an acceptable way to spend your tax dollars?
Andromachos November 22, 2012 at 06:12 PM
A) the consulting contract has (as far as I know) nothing to do with the budget or utility) of residential leaf removal. B) I know nothing about that contract right now in order to make any kind of informed opinion. I am, by default, skeptical of any government spending, but can not say for sure regarding this particular contract. If you have information or a link I would be glad to look at it.
Lynn Teger November 22, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I was present at the Town Board meeting. On the agenda must have been at least 10 resolutions that were being passed without public participation. The resolutions were there for people to inspect, but no public participation was permitted before they passed these resolutions. The leaf issue is the only item that was reported on here. The Patch reporter for some reason did not report on any of the resolutions that were passed. I don't know why, but the public should know what the Town is spending their money on. One of the resolutions passed was to pay Cambridge Systematics over $133,000 for doing the transportation component of the comprehensive plan. If you would like to confirm this information, you will have to call the Town since I do not know where to find the resolution online. The town is also planning (as of the last workshop) to spend $15 million on the West Nyack Revitalization. With taxes out of control and many people finding it unsustainable to live here, I thought it was something that people should know about.
Joan K November 24, 2012 at 03:04 AM
A Clarksttown resident addressed the Town Board about a particular member of the board who she had been targeted by. I was shocked to hear Councilman Frank Borelli call a widow in her 70's a bully. He is a very angry man.
Rob November 24, 2012 at 06:50 AM
Sounds like your the angry one.
Rob November 24, 2012 at 06:53 AM
The town needs to educate people about leaves...Just mulch the @$?* leaves into the grass....and in the spring, your lawn will be as green as can be.....
Joan K November 26, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Concerned yes, angry no.
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