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Dec 14, 2011 9:55 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Leaf Pickup Program Still Confuses Many

Dec 14, 2011 11:22 AM

Some say change is the only constant in life. Apparently, change is also the only thing Southampton Town residents can count on in the town’s leaf pickup program.

After years of the town picking up all loose leaves piled at the curb, the Highway Department made a flurry of changes to the program this year, settling on requiring all residents below the age of 73 who wish to have leaves collected to use recyclable paper bags and put them on the curb for pickup, stressing that loose piles of leaves would be left at curbside.

But since then, residents across town have reported that highway workers have been picking up loose leaves piled on the sides of roads as well, as if the new rules were never put in place.

On Wednesday morning, Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor confirmed that the department has been picking up piles of loose leaves, although he couldn’t quantify at how many homes. He said many residents either hadn’t been made aware of changes to the program or were simply refusing to comply, so the department was picking up leaves in an effort to keep roads safe.

“Some areas people have cooperated very well, and I thank them for their effort,” he said. “They made the town safer and cleaner. Other people, either they don’t know or don’t care. I can’t twist people’s arms or threaten them.” He said the department is bypassing homes that have piles of leaves with brush in them, or leaves in plastic bags.

In some parts of town, 60 or 70 percent of residents are following the new program. In other areas, participation is at about 50 percent, he said. “It’s the first year of a change in the program,” Mr. Gregor said. “It’s going to take people a little time.”

Pressed for more comments on the most recent change, Mr. Gregor hung up on a reporter.

Many residents said they were upset that the new rules were not being enforced.

“The bottom line is that Alex is a liar,” said Billy Schaw, the president of the Riverside Revitalization Community Corporation, a civic group in the northwest section of the town. “He’s picking up the leaves. Whether you’re 73 years old, or Santa Claus, or whoever you are, he’s going house to house and he’s sucking up all the leaves.”

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said she also had heard reports that leaves were being picked up by Mr. Gregor’s department—adding confusion to an already complex program, she said.

“There’s no doubt,” she said. “People are confused. Some are not happy. But more than anything else, I think there’s confusion. Change is never easy, so that may be part of it. We’re not getting a lot of information from the Highway Department. But my understanding is they are picking up the loose leaves even though people are being directed to put them in the bags, but are being given a grace period here.”

Mr. Schaw said the apparent newest change to the program makes him wonder why residents had to spend money and time on purchasing biodegradable bags and bagging their leaves.

The program was changed this year in several ways. Mr. Gregor instituted a voucher system, and originally said it would require all town residents or their landscapers to register with the Highway Department in order to drop leaves off for free at the town’s transfer stations in Westhampton, North Sea and Hampton Bays. Days before the program launched on November 14, however, Mr. Gregor said there was a misunderstanding about the voucher system, and that only contractors would need a voucher to dump a resident’s leaves for free.

Residents can self-haul their leaves to the town’s transfer stations, free of charge.

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I too have heard that Highway is picking up loose leaves from properties that under the current plan should not be picked up. Those of us that carted the leaves to the dump have been dooped. I have also been made aware that Highway is telling residents that their vouchers could come as late as February. Seriously?
Mr. Gregor, YOU have much to explain. How is it that your crew picked up Irene brush in less than two weeks yet almost one month after the Leaf program started, with 50% less leaves ...more
By auntof9 (159), Southampton on Dec 14, 11 10:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
Oh they were in North Sea this Saturday December 10th.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Dec 14, 11 11:14 AM
I heard Alex was hiding under a pile of rocks..What a sleaze.. A friend of a friend heard that people had asked why the crews were picking up all the leaves and apparently this was done by order of Alex himself. Even after they cited the new policy, apparently he emphatically told them to pick up everything.

If this type of behavior does not generate an ethics violation, I don't know what will. People have had to hire carters to take their leaves or find other solutions, while others ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Dec 14, 11 11:11 AM
2 members liked this comment
Under a pile of leaves...I believe!...;-)
By TheEastEndLover (3), Westhampton on Dec 18, 11 4:50 PM
To the Editor. I believe your head line should read "Southampton Town Leaf Pickup Program Still Confuses Highway Superintendent"...Thanks...
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Dec 14, 11 11:27 AM
I witnessed the town pick up loose leaves all down my road. I am very annoyed that this was done after such a big stink about having to have the leaves bagged. the added time & expensive. The town was able to clean up debris and leaves in a fast efficient manner after the Hurricane - why cant they do it every fall?? I am not confused but it sure seems the Highway Department is - change is a constant? Then I say let's see change - bye bye Mr. Gregor
By lmahanna (15), Hampton Bays on Dec 14, 11 11:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
Way to go Alex-you screwed the people that complied and bagged their leaves.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Dec 14, 11 12:41 PM
I find these new "changes" being imposed on the people of Southampton to be nothing more than a case of Age Descrimination and (unlawful) advertised invasion of ones personal information. When I drive through our town I can immediately pick out the homes where people of at least age 73 live there. In my opinion the only thing this serves to do is alert criminals that an elderly person resides here, is easy prey, and thus putting them in an even more vulnerable state for the criminals. And what ...more
By Latenighter (9), Southampton on Dec 14, 11 1:26 PM
2 members liked this comment
Great points. Except apparently anyone can put their leaves out and they get picked up. 73 seems and odd age, but I guess those who are less than 73 could get a doctors note and quailfy as a resident with "special needs." But again, a good indicator for a criminal to prey upon them.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Dec 14, 11 9:44 PM
So when is this guy up for re-election?
By Dafsgirl (64), Southampton on Dec 14, 11 1:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Paid $75 to have mine removed.......then watched them pick up all the leaves on my street a couple of days ago.
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on Dec 14, 11 2:00 PM
More BS coming out of Gregor's mouth to justify his duplicity. In my community there were more loose leaf piles and no bagged leaves. All got picked up including brush piles. He takes the taxpayers and residents of this town for fools. Anyone driving around sees that bagged leaves have been the exception rather than the rule. He said no more pick up of loose leaves and then he went around and picked them up.

Safe roads sure. But the only parts of the roads that are safe is where there ...more
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Dec 14, 11 5:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
Picked up my new tax bill today from the mailbox, Highway department did not go down, but they are doing less, withpicking up my leaves. Did the right thing, got a voucher, loaded up my truck and went to the transfer station, where I was greated by a town employee of Waste Management, who said, " we dont accept the vouchers from the highway department!" Called Chris Nuzzi, and he did not know what to say, but "I'll look into it?" What can I tell you????
By trurepublician (53), hampton bays on Dec 14, 11 6:16 PM
the hampton bays transfer station always accepts leaves for free from residents. your story doesn't make sense.
did they accept your leaves and not the voucher?
By user.name (46), hampton bays on Dec 14, 11 8:57 PM
What a joke! I borrowed a pick-up truck and spent the better part of a weekend hauling leaves to the dump and other people just put their leaves in the road and THEY GET PICKED UP! Confusion? I think not. Keeping the roads safe? What happens next year when people do the same thing? Is the Highway going to pick the leaves up again to keep the roads safe? Is the town going to reimburse residents for the money spent on bags? Get this clown out of office ASAP.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Dec 14, 11 9:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
Gregor seems a bit cooky. But honestly I took my stuff the dump. I did my one neighbors too. I am not sure if I should be mad at Gregor for picking up my other neighbors stuff, I really should be mad at them for being so f'n lazy they left it out in front of their house for three weeks. They got teenage kids too. WTF?
By theshtdharmainitiative (12), Southampton on Dec 15, 11 1:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
Normal piles of leaves in my neighborhood have NOT been picked up. What were picked up were the leaves put into the road which were a traffic hazard. I have watched many people using leaf blowers to intentionally place them there.So, unless we are going to pay Leaf Police to drive around and ticket people IN THE ACT, those leaves need to be removed for safety reasons.
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Dec 15, 11 2:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
Called the Highway Dept. to report this type of hazardous condition in Noyac. Told to call Code enforcement. Did. Days later the leaves are still there. Is anyone considering the potential liability costs of this???
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Dec 15, 11 1:20 PM
This is the definition of incompetence, or cronyism perhaps.
By Born Here (26), HB on Dec 15, 11 6:11 AM
Ah, life in Southampton......You can't make this stuff up.
By lazymedic (100), southampton on Dec 15, 11 8:58 AM
The town highway crew were in my neighborhood picking up loose leaves by the road side but unfortunately seventy percent of the leaves had not fallen of the trees yet, so after the leaves were all down, we put them on the side of the road then hired somone to pick them up for $200. What a bunch of B.S.
By Patty P (3), Sag Harbor on Dec 15, 11 8:58 AM
This is part of the outrage of this whole situation. On top of the taxes that are paid to the town for this people are having to shell out additional money for private carters. To add insult to injury they are dealing with price gouging to boot. One person in this thread paid 75, this one 200. What is a fair price for this service?
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Dec 15, 11 9:23 AM
The Highway Dept. should have to repay all residents who paid for bags, private leaf removal and gas to remove one owns leaves while othesr get away scott free... I was informed by town highway workers before Nov. 14, that the town would be picking up al unbaggedl leaves. Why the devil did I being age 72 bother to cart 4 jammed pick up trucks to the transferre station in Hampton Bays. After3 weeks of back breaking and trying to do the right thing Alex I am really mad. One neighbor on this ...more
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Dec 15, 11 6:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
I am with you Carol. I am mad too! We have been duped and screwed!
By TheEastEndLover (3), Westhampton on Dec 19, 11 12:15 AM
To Toma & Carol, really?? The Highway Dept staff are not the Town's private landscapers, they are hired to maintain our roads and highways. Get a grip, so you decided to remove your leaves rather than mulch....your decision. This program was advertised and forums were held. NOW you decide to voice an opinion. IMO the loose leaves being picked up most probably are put well into the streets causing a hazard, or as I have witnessed placed over storm drains or worse fire hydrants knowing full well ...more
By Ref11 (17), hampton bays on Dec 17, 11 11:40 PM
I obeyed the new rules like many residents did. Your buddy Alex disobeyed his own rules. Are you a sockpuppet for Alex ? I Have always voiced my opposition to the changes to the leaf pickup policy and especially the way YOU went about changing them. Poorly advertized and sparsely attended meetings including mailings that many residents did not get. This is a perception shared in many articles by this paper. In my area i witnessed no leaves placed in front of storm drains (and i have three within ...more
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Dec 18, 11 7:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
I understand the frustration her but Let's all remember that last year we had two snow-falls by this time. This year, it has been warm.
The highway department is doing what they do.......maintaining the streets. The leaf program has to change moving forward. Greger is doing this......granted....in his own rather unique way.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Dec 18, 11 7:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
This is just outrageous. I too spent countless hours mulching and bagging ($50 for the bags) the leaves I used to simply put on the curb. I borrowed a truck to bring to the dump the leaves that fell after the town picked up the bags I had on the curb. My neighbors spent over $600 to have a landscaper get theirs to the dump (they had to pay extra since they had more than the 8 cu yards allowed by the town). Like the age limit determination, the maximum size allowed per residence doesn’t do ...more
By TheEastEndLover (3), Westhampton on Dec 18, 11 4:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
if you think the local government is going to provide a quality service at a better price than the private sector you are out of your mind. have you seen the people that work for the town of southampton? do you know what town employees really cost the tax payer?
By user.name (46), hampton bays on Dec 18, 11 6:46 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Dec 18, 11 6:21 PM
VOS - perfectly said.
Gregor was elected for change...and so far it has been an uphill battle for him and his staff. There is not enough money or staff to continue this program.
User.Name - ignorant. I hope you do not ever need the services of the Town employee (Police, Hwy, Fire Marshall, Senior Services etc.)

There are bigger fish to fry...focus on them for a change.
By Ref11 (17), hampton bays on Dec 18, 11 8:26 PM
To Ref11 and VOS, I agree with you that the Town does not pick up the leaves efficiently and may be we all should pay to take our own leaves away and it will probably be cheaper in the long run. However you seem to be defending Alex when the real problem was a policy that he did not think through and did not implement consistantly, I live in a subdivision that had its leaves picked up that were not in the street or blocking drainage....all the people who followed the rules and paid to remove their ...more
By Sug Tonmi (25), southampton on Dec 19, 11 6:42 AM
1 member liked this comment
Pros & Cons on Alex Gregor:

Not part of the good-old-boy crowd.
Gives a good speech.
Not afraid to speak his mind.
Heart is probably in the right place.

Touchy, works poorly with others, lets grudges cripple progress.
Leaf thing threw him, makes him look inconsistent and undisciplined.
Listens to bad advice and turns on his friends.
Member of Frank MacKay's one-man mafia masquerading as a political party.

Alex has 2 years to ...more
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Dec 20, 11 5:41 PM
For more analysis, see my post under "Sidewalk Proposal Causes Stir in Tuckahoe," 12/21/11.
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Dec 21, 11 5:39 PM
Ref11, I did mulch the leaves until they became impossible to mulch. With hundreds of oak trees across from my property on this small dirt road I am the only one who has clean these up over the past 50 years. This year I decieded to stop doing this as they are not my leaves . They looked terrible so I removed them. I have 4 oak trees in my yard . These other blows into my yard. iT is tought to mulch this amount of leaves and leave this amount of mulch on the grass .lMy yard averages 8 to ...more
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Dec 21, 11 8:02 AM