Indianapolis leaves fall behind

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If you're not done raking your leaves, you're probably having them picked up by the city. Indianapolis' four-week-long leaf collection program ended last weekend, catching more than a few homeowners by surprise.

As he put on his gloves and picked up his rake, Gregg Rogers said, "so the city decided not to pick up any more leaves eh?"

Rogers was finishing up the yard Wednesday afternoon, adding to the bags of leaves left behind Tuesday, his trash pick-up day.

"I thought they'd pick them up yesterday as they always do at the end of fall," he said.

But they didn't. The city's leaf collection program, which allows homeowners to leave up to 40 bags for pick-up, ended Saturday.

Like others in his north side neighborhood, Rogers was a bit frustrated. 

"Because you look all up and down Pennsylvania and there are leaves all over everywhere, (lots of) bags and you wonder what's the city up to this time?" he said.

Department of Public Works spokesperson Lesley Gordon acknowledged, "There are definitely some leaves still bagged up and on the ground in neighborhoods."

But she added, it's really no different than years past.

"Normally, we schedule around the same time every year," she said, which doesn't always factor in a drought like last year, or if leaves fall a bit later, like this year.     

John Peoni walked along his front sidewalk lined up with 40-plus bags, noting "this is probably a couple days' worth."

And with plenty of leaves yet to fall from his oak trees, he still has a ways to go.

"I'm halfway through the gutters, and this will be the second time I've done gutters."

The city, or the haulers it contracts with, will eventually pick up all the bags, but not all at once.

As Peoni said, "Since I'm allowed 10 bags per week, it may take a month to pick them all up and that's (leaf) bags in addition to my normal trash."

But the city doesn't want homeowners leaving bags out front where they can split open and get in the street.

Gordon said there are options.

"Residents can take their leaves to the south side landfill," she said.  "There is a small fee but you can take as many bags as you like there, a whole carload and they only charge per carload."

Neither Rogers nor Peoni will be taking their bagged leaves to the landfill.  Both wish the pick-up period was longer. 

Jeff Miller, (not the city county councilor) who worked for Public Works during the Hudnut administration, said back in the early 1990s the leaf program ran ten weeks. Over the years, it's been whittled down to eight, six and then four weeks.

Malone said the city began extended pick-up to six weeks in 2011 because of an early fall.  But she said that additional two weeks doubled the cost of leaf disposal that year.

She said extending the pick-up period this year, "hasn't been brought up quite yet."