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Cash-strapped city bags leaf collection program

A year after the city put finishing touches on an ambitious program for leaf composting that would have required homeowners in many parts of the city to bag leaves in brown paper or put them loose in a can for pickup, the program has been put on hold.

Budget cuts caused by the city’s increasingly dire financial outlook were the reason why the special leaf composting pickups have been suspended for this year, according to the Department of Sanitation (DOS), which is now advising homeowners to put out leaves in big black bags – the way they used to – for pickup with regular garbage.

“Tough financial times require that tough decisions be made. We hope to resume our popular seasonal leaf collection and composting program soon,” said John Doherty, the DOS commissioner in a statement.

Doris Ortiz, the district manager of Community Board 14, announced the change to board members and community residents gathered at Edward R. Murrow High School, Avenue L and East 17th Street, for the board’s October meeting.

Ortiz said that, because of the composting program suspension, homeowners should place, “Raked leaves out in regular black bags for collection with household garbage.

“This doesn’t mean landscapers can place them out for collection,” Ortiz went on. “Landscapers must take them to a composting area. They know where they are because all landscapers have been notified by Sanitation.”

Not every city neighborhood had been included in the leaf composting program that is now suspended. Rather, leaves were being collected last year for composting only in the 37 community districts in four boroughs that had been designated leaf collection districts. These included most of Brooklyn and the Bronx, as well as all of Staten Island and Queens; Manhattan was not included in the initiative.

Brooklyn community boards that had been designated leaf collection districts were CB2, CB5, CB6, CB7, CB9, CB10, CB11, CB12, CB13, CB14, CB15, CB16, CB17 and CB18.

Homeowners in those areas had been told last year that they must follow the stated protocols of the department or face fines. Homeowners in districts that had not been included in the initiative had been urged to follow the protocols, but did not face the threat of fines for lack of compliance.

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