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.