Last weekend was my weekend to gather leaves around my home and rake them into the street at curbside. I take this chore as a personal challenge. As my dad would say, ‘if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right’.
I have a time-tested and proven plan which includes a weather report, working with the wind, starting in the back yard and using a tarp to drag the leaves to the front, and depositing them very carefully not less than 15 feet from the driveway. I also allow room for the garbage guy to get my cans without pushing through the leaves, and I give the postal worker room to get to the mailbox. Here is the tricky part; trying to figure out from which direction the truck will be coming to vacuum the leaves. I never seem to get this one right, because inevitably the truck pushes the leaves towards the entrance to my driveway.
Then I meticulously rake the front yard leaves to curbside, allowing 12 inches from the curb to the 24 inch high pile of leaves stretching from lot line to lot line (again accommodating for garbage pick-up and mail delivery). The 12 inch path allows water to pass through. When I’m all done with leaf placement, I use my hose to spray a layer of water on the leaves, which stabilizes the leaves against the wind.
When done, I stand back to admire my accomplishment, and wait for the leaf guys to come rolling through. There must be a million leaves waiting to disappear. This year, within a few days, the leaf guys came through and again I guessed the wrong direction. By the time they were done, there was a trail of one million leaves stretching down the street blowing in the wind. Wow, what a seemingly waste of time, and taxpayer dollars.
The City of Naperville spends a lot of money trying to collect leaves throughout the city during a six week period in Autumn. This year the process began October 19 and ends November 30 and possibly sooner depending upon weather conditions.
Leaves are piled in the street at curbside and every two weeks trucks (leaf loaders), and vacuum units, come by and magically make the leaves disappear, according to city officials; what disappears are the budget dollars, while the leaves simply get rearranged in the neighborhood.
In a perfect world, the process works perfect, however leaf collecting is anything but perfect. Typically the first of the three drive-byes to pick-up leaves is too early and a small percentage of residents have their leaves ready. Most of the leaves are still on the trees. The second drive-by is a race between the residents raking leaves into the street, and the leave trucks circling the neighborhoods. And the third drive-by often-times doesn’t get completed due to inclement weather.
So are the residents really getting the best bang for their leaf-collecting buck? A million leaves stretching down the street would say no. With a City budget deficit of $1.8 million, maybe our leaf collecting expense could be put to better use, by 1) chipping into the deficit, and 2) allowing residents the right to utilize municipal center meeting rooms without a fee to use the ‘peoples house’, a term appropriately coined by councilman John Krummen.
Those wanting to use a municipal center meeting room could simply bring a bag of leaves, in lieu of paying a fee. It’s a win-win-win. The good folks of Naperville could use what they ‘built’, city officials could save a bundle of money and use it towards the deficit, and we could get leaves off the street.