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Sun., Nov. 23
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City’s yard waste pickup plan is unworkable

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The city of Ogdensburg’s plan to limit how often it picks up yard waste and brush from residents could pose problems as it currently stands.

The city plans to schedule pickup in each of its four wards once a month, and residents of those areas are asked to place their waste on the curb on designated days. Those who put their yard waste on the curb at a time other than their designated days to do so could face fines.

Residents conscientious enough to keep their yards free of debris do it at their convenience and place their yard waste on the curb when they are finished gathering it. Many are only able to do such work on weekends, because they have jobs and families and lives that fill their schedules throughout the week. It is unfair to penalize them for tidying their properties when they are able, rather than abiding by an arbitrary day set for the city’s convenience.

Even if people do get fined, what happens to the waste they have already placed on the curb three weeks before the designated pickup date? It will sit and wait for DPW to pick it up, making our streets look unkempt and attracting nuisance animals like mice, rats and snakes that seek out piles of sticks and leaves in which to nest.

Residents are encouraged to haul their own yard waste to the city’s former landfill, but not everyone has a vehicle to accommodate that task.

City residents are not allowed to burn their yard waste within the city limits because of the potential risk to neighboring buildings, but there is the potential for that scenario if they do not otherwise have a convenient means of disposal.

The city’s desire to reduce how often waste is picked up is understandable. Officials want to rein in the amount of overtime they pay DPW workers to conduct curbside yard waste pickup, which last year amounted to more than 3,000 hours.

City officials might want to consider hiring another full-time worker. An employee working 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year accounts for 2,080 regular hours, and could reduce the amount of overtime necessary to keep city streets clean and rats out of city residents’ yards.

The alternative is unworkable, and will undermine beautification efforts along the city’s main thoroughfares that in recent years have had some measure of success improving Ogdensburg’s appearance. City officials should go back to the drawing board to find a balance between offering an effective service and keeping costs in check.

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