Warm weather mucking up Oak Park leaf removal

Leaf collection ends in November, but some still haven't fallen

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

November is here and that means it's time to get rid of those pesky leaves – but will Oak Park find itself in the same predicament as it did last year when warm weather kept the leaves stubbornly clinging onto their branches?

That could be the case, according to Oak Park Public Works Director John Wielebnicki.

"This year, with the dry summer, we thought trees would lose their leaves really, really early," he said. "Then they just stopped falling because the weather turned nice, and we didn't get the cold like we had had and too much rain."

He said leaf removal runs through the end of November, and those that are not raked out onto the street – or don't even fall by the end of the month – will not be picked up.

The village notes in a press release that waste haulers collect nearly 2,000 tons of leaves a year in the village during the months of October and November.

Timing the leaf removal correctly is a tricky issue for the village; last year, unseasonably warm weather resulted in a lot of angry residents who raked the leaves out too late.

Those that are left in the street after November generally get snowed on and then plowed back onto the parkway, leaving a mushy mess for residents all winter. They also end up in the gutters and clog drains, which can lead to flooding, Wielebnicki said.

Wielebnicki said in a recent telephone interview that extending the leaf removal program, which is run by the village's refuse hauler Waste Management, would cost taxpayers about $25,000 a week.

"What we recommend and prefer (for those who miss the leaf removal in November) is … to not rake them into the street but leave them on your yard and mulch them in," he said. "Just run it over with a lawnmower and don't bag them."

He said leaves also can be composted.

The village has issued a schedule for when leaves will be removed from their block. Residents in all parts of the village still have at least two more chances to get their leaves removed by the village.

The village is divided into four quadrants for the purposes of leaf removal.

The dividing streets are South Boulevard and East Avenue. Leaf removal in the northwest quadrants takes place on Nov. 22 and 29; in the northeast quadrant on Nov. 16, 23 and 30; in the southwest quadrant on Nov. 21 and 28; and in the southeast quadrant on Nov. 20 and 27.

"Leaves need to be not only raked into the street, but ideally kept at least 18 inches from the curb to make sure the equipment can get them all," according to the village. "Residents also are urged to keep their leaves on the parkway until the day before their scheduled pickup, a simple courtesy that can improve day-to-day traffic flow and reduce the chances of an accident."

The village also encourages residents to not include "brush, pumpkins and all other forms of plant matter that can contaminate the leaf recycling system."

Wielebnicki said residents should rake the leaves out the night before pickup because waste haulers begin early in the morning.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Mike Hanline  

Posted: November 16th, 2017 4:31 PM

@Leslie: Mulching some leaves is good for your lawn, but keeping all the leaves on tends to smother it.

Leslie Roberts from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2017 11:13 AM

Never understood why leaves need to be raked anyway when they can be left to protect the lawns/yards. Thanks for informing us of how to do that. Maybe we just need the trucks to gather the leaves that naturally blow into the streets. If the seasons are shifting then we must adapt to the changes. Reschedule the trucks to meet the shift.

Richard Fischer from OP  

Posted: November 15th, 2017 7:26 PM

Early in the season there aren't that many leaves so why not have the first two pickups every other week then those 2 weeks can be tacked on at the end which would help for late falls and people who always seem to miss the last pickup.

Bob Larson  

Posted: November 15th, 2017 7:18 PM

Even though global warming is obviously Chinese government fake news, I think the VOP should move back leaf collection by 2 weeks to accommodate the later leave droppings.

Larry Skiver from Oakpark   

Posted: November 15th, 2017 7:12 PM

Why not shift the pick-up a week later. Problem solved.

Jim Mains  

Posted: November 15th, 2017 7:09 PM

It would be nice if they came by and swept up the leaves they push up into my yard. I ended up with as many leaves in my yard from other properties than I originally raked.

Zack Nauth  

Posted: November 15th, 2017 6:52 PM

I'll say! My two huge Norway maples have 90% of their leaves still. Never seen it this late. I have space in back yard to compost them, so no complaints

Christopher Goode from Oak Park  

Posted: November 15th, 2017 5:01 PM

The leaves have been falling later for at least the last three years. I think it is probably time for Oak Park to push their leaf removal schedule at least one week back on the calendar as all of the leaves are not down until early December.

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