Concord keeps leaf collection program, adds 3-week bag option

Monitor staff
Published: 9/10/2018 9:31:38 PM

Concord residents with an abundance of leaves can breathe easy – the city will keep its bulk leaf collection program and add a three-week bagging option for residents who may get left out.

During the Concord City Council’s Monday meeting, residents overwhelmingly spoke in favor of keeping the current program, where city staff drive around neighborhoods vacuuming up leaves raked to the curb. They said a change-up would require too much work to bag the leaves and would place the cost of removal on the residents. 

“Getting rid of the vacuuming is wrong because it makes the city more beautiful, I think,” said Roberta Kieronski, of the Heights. “People are not going to have the ability to rake all those leaves, depending on their age.”

The proposal would have required residents who want their leaves picked up to collect them in yard waste bags they purchase themselves or in labeled rigid plastic containers. The city would have contracted to Casella Waste Systems to deploy two trucks and two crews for a four-week program running the last three weeks of November and the first week of December. That would have cost about $91,000 out of the city’s Solid Waste fund.

However, the switch would have saved the city about $21,648 in fuel, overtime and parts in this fiscal year. In total, the program would have cost around $70,000.

About 21 members of the city’s highways and utility staff are dedicated to the leaf collection program, at a cost $171,000 a year from the city’s Solid Waste fund. The change would have freed those employees to do other work, like patching potholes and removing snow from the streets. 

Adding the three-week bagged program will cost about $37,500 and keeps the flow of leaves going to farms and landscaping companies, which rely on the leaves for composting. The bagged program will coincide with the last three weeks of the regular bulk leaf program.

The program is constantly in a race against Mother Nature, as an early snowstorm can mean an end to the season’s pickup, causing some residents to miss collection entirely. Other residents whose trees hold onto their leaves later into the season can also find themselves out of luck if the crews visit their street in early autumn.

Residents urged counselors to keep the service, often detailing the amount of work they believe it would take to bag leaves.

“It would take well over 100 bags to do ours,” said Rebecca Johnson, of North Main Street.

Others noted that if they miss their collection, they take matters into their own hands.

“What I end up doing is that I put them in big plastic bags, put them in the backseat of my Lexus, take them down to the river and get rid of them,” said resident Fred Hogan.

Residents can look for leaf collection to begin as usual around the end of October and end on December 7.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)This story has been updated to clarify when the bagged leaf program will begin.

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