Leaf Program Continues - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1918062

Leaf Program Continues

Officials in the Town of Southampton have made protecting the beautiful area we call home a priority. Over the years, the town’s environmental efforts have included: battling global warming; reducing emissions; groundwater protection; requiring low-nitrogen septic systems; saving the Pine Barrens; solar incentives; geothermal heat; cooling incentives; banning plastic bags, straws and balloons; regulating noise and light pollution — and the list goes on. The majority of town residents agree with these efforts and do their part to help.

The Highway Department is also taking steps to become more environmentally conscious. Our recent efforts include:

• Replacing older equipment with updated technology to save on fuel and decrease emissions.

• Highway is currently on the list for the first production of a fully electric pickup truck.

• Researching solar panels on all highway buildings.

• Evaluating crews’ duties in the field to reduce waste.

In the 1970s, the Town of Southampton banned residents from burning leaves during spring and fall cleanups in an early effort to protect the environment. Soon after, the Highway Department developed the “Leaf Pickup Program,” which has grown to be a vast responsibility for the department.

Residents of Southampton Town understand that the taxes they pay in “highway tax” funds the operation of the Highway Department to maintain 450 miles of town-owned roadways. However, most are unaware that the New York State comptroller has ruled that no “highway tax” monies can be used to fund the leaf pickup program, because the program does not service all residents. Residents who reside on private, Trustee or incorporated village roads are not included. Still, the program has endured, with partial funding from the town’s general tax fund.

A primary responsibility of the Highway Department is cleaning storm drains to reduce flooding and prevent groundwater and waterway pollution. Many of the town’s drain systems funnel storm runoff directly into our waterways; cleaning the debris and preventing contaminated loose leaves from entering drains is critical.

As everyone continues to do their part to help the environment, the Highway Department will continue the spring and fall Leaf Pickup Program. However, because loose leaves in residential neighborhoods are often the cause of drainage issues and may be contaminated with pesticides from tree spraying and ground fertilizers, we can no longer allow residents to just put out loose leaves.

All leaves must be contained in “biodegradable bags” for pickup. If you are 70 years of age or older, and have a hardship where you cannot bag your leaves, you can register at the highway office and other arrangements will be considered. Visit southamptontownny.com for further information.

Thank you in advance for everyone’s cooperation.

Charlie McArdle

Highway Superintendent

Southampton Town