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City officials say new yard waste schedule helps DPW get more done

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Ogdensburg officials say a new schedule to pick up yard waste in the city is freeing up Department of Public Works crews to get more important work done.

The city this month started picking up yard waste once a week in each of the city’s four wards. Previously, DPW picked up yard waste whenever residents requested it. The change was made to cut down on the number of overtime hours Public Works employees were logging, which amounted to more than 3,000 last year.

DPW interim Director Gregg E. Harland said Wednesday that the department has received relatively few complaints about the change.

“About 90 percent of the calls we get are from people who hadn’t seen it in the paper or don’t have a computer to find the schedule on the website,” he said. “And most of them are fine with it. I myself have only heard from two people who were not in favor of it.”

Mr. Harland said most people are complying with the new rules, which also dictate that residents only place yard waste on the curb the Saturday before their area is scheduled for pickup, and that it not be bagged or contain any debris that is not leaves or brush.

“For the most part, I think it’s better for most people because it frees us up to do other things, like the repairs to the Maple City Trail,” he said. “It’s not like we’re taking a service away.”

Mr. Harland credited the schedule change for giving his crew enough time to fix flood damage to the trail, which will reopen today.

City Manager John M. Pinkerton said some residents are not complying with the no-bag rule, perhaps because they do not understand the rationale for it.

“If we have bags in our landfill, we get fined,” he said. “We cannot and will not pick up anything if it is in a bag.”

Mr. Pinkerton said the city’s agreement with renewable energy company ReEnergy Holdings LLC, Latham, allows the city to dispose of its yard waste for free. The company mulches the waste and uses the biomass to produce energy.

“If there are any bags or trash in the brush, they can’t chip it and won’t take it,” Mr. Pinkerton said.

He said pet waste, construction debris and trash cannot be mixed in with yard waste. Mr. Pinkerton said city residents are welcome to gather their waste in bags and then empty the bags on the curb.

He, too, said City Hall has not heard very many complaints about the change, and he hopes residents will give the new system a chance to work.

“Give us a chance to do it for a year, and address whatever issues there may be,” he said. “It frees DPW up to do other, more important work in the city.”

Mr. Harland said previously, DPW crews were devoting too much time to brush pickup, working off a list of requests that constantly grew.

“Normally this time of year there are two crews every day picking it up, and people are putting it out behind us as quickly as we go,” he said. “The old way was not a good way of doing it.”

The yard waste pickup schedule is listed on the city’s website at http://ogdensburg.org/index.aspx?NID=376.

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