Just-re-elected Ward 2 Councilman Howard Clement kicked off the City Council meeting with an unexpected (possible) early holiday present to city residents -- assuming the budget can hold.
Just as the mayor was preparing to call the question on the consent agenda for the night, Clement hopped into the conversation to note an email inquiry received from a citizen on curbside leaf vacuuming.
"I would respectfully request that the administration look at" the issue, Clement said, asking city manager Tom Bonfield for an update, and noting that the method was in place in both Cary and Raleigh to keep fall leaves off of city streets.
Bonfield noted that significant research by Solid Waste would be required in order to come up with a report on what such an initiative might look like.
"I had directed the staff that we look at that in conjunction with the budget process" for this year, Bonfield said, suggesting this might come up in one of this year's budget retreats, and citing the "considerable cost implications of implementing that service."
Bonfield's not kidding about the cost of such a program likely being "considerable."
A 2007 estimate by Solid Waste's Gene Arrington suggested to PAC2 that such an effort might cost $500,000 to start up and another $2.5 million per year to operate, though I can't help but wonder if those numbers weren't reversed on the listserv report from that time.
The topic of leaves has "fallen" again on neighborhood listservs, as some neighbors or their lawn crews somehow manage to migrate their leaves towards the curb, or worse, into the streets -- and there's one cross-street of Gregson whose house I glare at every morning when I pass it.
Then it rains, and the leaves get wet, and cars slip and slide; one listserv email reported seeing a car do a 180. Or, they clog the storm sewers, either clogging them up and causing flooding, or helping to pollute streams.
The City's position on the subject is clear for now:
The Department of Solid Waste Management and Stormwater Services remind residents that the City does not have a leaf vacuuming program. Residents who rake or blow leaves into the street are subject to a fine. Residents subscribing to the optional yard waste program may place up to 10 biodegradable paper bags at the curb for collection each week on their normal service day. The yard waste cart with a current sticker must be at the curb and filled before paper bags can be used. If a yard waste customer has more than 10 bags, the excess will be collected the following week or residents may call 650-4186 to schedule a bulky brush collection.
Photo credit for the flying pigs: