Raking leaves is a major chore at my house from October through November. While Naperville has done a great job upgrading and expanding their equipment to improve bulk leaf collection, the City has no control over the weather. Things can get complicated if the snow comes before the leaves are collected. Snow-covered piles of leaves along the curb make snow removal difficult. Bagging wet or frozen leaves isn’t always possible for all residents.
We should start basing our operations on the assumption that the overlap between leaf collection and snow removal will be the norm. I believe there is still room for compromise so that the City can have their trucks ready for snow removal and residents can still properly dispose of their leaves without having to bag them. Parkway leaf collection might be the answer.
In 2019, Naperville considered changing the leaf collection program to reduce the pickups from three to two, however they also wanted to end the leaf collection in mid-November, as opposed to the last week of November. I would like Naperville to revisit the issue of the leaf collection. I propose that residents be allowed to rake the leaves to the parkway instead of the street.
How would it work?
Parkway bulk leaf collection is currently performed in a small area in the vicinity North Central College. Property owners rake their leaves to the parkway. Naperville crews use a vacuum truck to pick up the leaves. It is a labor intensive and expensive method of bulk leaf collection, but it keeps leaves off of the streets to preserve parking, and the vacuum truck is able to access the narrow streets.
Would it work for the rest of Naperville?
It is possible, but we would need public input and a feasibility study. Questions would include:
If the first of the three bulk leaf collections were eliminated, would the cost savings on labor offset the additional labor needed for parkway leaf collection?
Do we currently have the equipment needed for parkway bulk leaf collection?
In the event of snowfall before leaf collection has concluded, would residents approve of allowing the leaves to remain on the parkway until final bulk collection (possibly in the spring), so residents don’t have to bag their remaining leaves?
What are the benefits of parkway leaf collection?
Eliminates the giant piles of leaves that prevent street parking and snow removal from October through November
Reduces hardship on people with physical limitations who are unable to bag their leaves.
Reduces the number of leaves that are carried from the street into clogged gutters and storm drains
Phosphorus released from the decomposing leaves is absorbed into the parkway soil and fertilizes the grass.
When phosphorus is retained in the parkway instead of being washed into waterways, this reduces toxic algae, which is harmful to wildlife, pets, and even humans.
Reducing phosphorus from discharging into water bodies also helps Naperville satisfy their U.S. EPA NPDES MS4 permit requirements to reduce pollution.