Can you remember way back in time, when burning leaves was part of every day life in autumn, and the aroma of burning leaves was emblazoned in your sense of smell. For me it was baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet all rolled into one. Then the EPA arrived, and that part of the olfactory system was shut down.
As with just about all government programs and mandates, reality catches up with common sense, and unintended consequences dictate a change in direction. In this case, Naperville is spending too much money to haul the autumn leaves to outlying farms, and replacing the program with burning leaves by using huge leaf incinerators.
Naperville city officials estimate that a “burn box” bigger than a bread box and smaller than a railroad car could be purchased for about $150,000, which is about half the cost of hauling last year’s leaves to farmland. City officials also estimate this would handle about 50 – 80% of the leaves collected by residents, deposited at curbside, and picked up by leaf-picker-uppers.
That still leaves 20-50% of the remaining leaves to be hauled elsewhere at about $60,000 to $150,000 yearly. That begs the question, why not purchase another ‘burn box’ at $150,000 (and maybe get a quantity discount) to take care of the entire issue; no more yearly hauling expense.
If the plan works like city officials believe it will work (and when hasn’t a city plan worked), then city officials could expand, purchase more ‘burn boxes’, and open it up to other communities hauling their leaves to Naperville for incineration. It could turn into a money-maker and a huge profit center. The sky is the limit. A city motto could be born, “Turning your leaves, into dollars for us”.
As a bonus to the residents of Naperville, city officials could open the lid of the incinerator on a windy day during the fall, so residents could remember bygone days with the pleasant aroma of burning leaves reigniting their olfactory sense.
Of the nine members on the Naperville city council, two are business owners (Mayor Steve Chirico and Becky Anderson), so surely they can see the upside of this opportunity. If they can make a buck selling a carpet, or a book, then the city can make a buck burning leaves. Managing government like a successful business. Now that would be innovative.