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Annual Leaf Program Comes Curbside; Township Hopes Volunteers Will Help

Matthew Hersh

While the Township's voluntary leaf-bagging program was officially launched Monday, the municipality still has plans to carry out its fall program to collect leaves curbside. But, considering that the curbside program begins as early as next week in some parts of the Township and as late as mid-November in others, municipal officials are hoping residents will take part in the volunteer program to help the town comply with new state stormwater quality regulations.

One of the goals of the state mandates is to keep leaves and other debris away from gutters and inlets to avert runoff contamination.

"The bag program is something we need to do because it helps us and we help [the residents]," said Don Hansen, superintendent of the Township's Public Works Department. "When residents put their leaves in the street, we go and clean an area, but when we're done cleaning an area up, leaves get put down right behind us, so the streets never really look clean."

With about 109 miles of roads in the Township, Mr. Hansen said, "it's an ongoing leaves-in-the-street situation."

Mr. Hansen added that expensive equipment the Township has purchased has not yet been put to use because the streets have been too cluttered.

A $170,000 sweeper, paid for with Township money, was intended to clean streets when they are largely free of debris, but according to Mr. Hansen Public Works has run into problems with piles of leaves left out, essentially disabling the sweeper since it is not able to travel over large debris. As such, the machine has not been put to full use and has not lived up to the cost incurred by Township residents.

"We never get to sweep the streets because of this situation. How do you sweep it? As soon as it rains, the leaf piles are moving down the street."

Public Works, which has been issuing 20 free leaf bags per residence, will continue to issue bags weekdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., throughout the season at the Public Works building at the Witherspoon Street/Valley Road intersection. Additional bags are sold in bundles of 10 for $2.50.

The voluntary bagged program will run Mondays through December 20 in the Township's northeast quadrant; Tuesdays through December 21 in the southeast quadrant; Wednesdays through December 22 in the southwest quadrant; and Thursdays, starting tomorrow through December 16 in the northwest quadrant. Since Thursday, December 23 is a municipal holiday, the northwest section will have an additional pickup on Wednesday, December 22.

The loose leaf pickup program will be held November 15 through November 19 and December 13 through December 17 in the northeast quadrant; November 8 through November 12 and December 6 through December 10 in the southeast quadrant; November 1 through 5 and November 29 through December 3 in the southwest quadrant; and October 25 through October 29 and November 22 through 26 (excluding Thanksgiving) in the northwest quadrant. Leaf piles can be placed along the curb in the street no more than seven days before pickup.

For more information, visit www.princetontwp.org, click on "announcements," and then "leaf pick-up schedule."

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