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FW: CYBERGARDENS: NY Times Article on the Christmas Tree mulchingprogram

  • Subject: [cg] FW: CYBERGARDENS: NY Times Article on the Christmas Tree mulchingprogram
  • From: "Honigman, Adam" Adam.Honigman@Bowne.com
  • Date: Tue, 7 Jan 2003 11:14:59 -0500

Lenny Librizzi's  posting to the NYC Cybergardens listserve is too rich to
keep within the five boroughs. 

Thanks Lenny!

-----Original Message-----
From: Lenny Librizzi [mailto:plantlot@rcn.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 07, 2003 10:27 AM
To: cybergardens@treebranch.com
Subject: CYBERGARDENS: NY Times Article on the Christmas Tree mulching

News from the CYBERGARDENS mailing list 

How about this! I cut and pasted this article from todays New York Times.
Note, community gardeners are mentioned in 
the first sentence. It seems like it is illegal according to this article to
pick up trees from the curbside for mulching. Only 
the Sanitation Dept can do that. So there are laws against being
environmentally correct and trying to add good things 
to our trees and gardens. Luckily I live close enough to a Parks Dept
mulching site, The Staten Island Botanic Garden, 
that I could put our tree and my 5 year old son on our little red wagon and
walk to the drop off site. Most New Yorkers 
do not have that "luxury". By the way, I couldn't get my bag of mulch right
there on the spot because SIBG only had a 
brush chipper, not a tree chipper. I have to make another trip for my chips.
Lets put this in the, " Can you believe this?" file.

Lenny Librizzi

NY Times  Jan 7, 2003 

Sanitation Union Says Parks Dept. Can't Collect Trees


In this the season of desiccated Christmas trees stacked at curbside and of
Dustbusters perpetually choked with dry 
needles, community gardeners and Boy Scouts gather round wood chippers to
watch entire forests' worth of castoff 
Christmas trees get ground into mulch.

But the sanitation workers' union tossed a small wrench into the works of
New York City's annual tree mulching ritual last 
weekend: it complained that the city's Parks Department trucks were being
used to pick up trees for chipping — an 
infringement of the sanitation workers' right to cart them away as garbage.

"That's our job, house-to-house collection," said Harry Nespoli, president
of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association. 
"Why not accept their help? Because in the past, we've always collected
those trees. They're taking our jobs away from 
our members."

Then he added, "Would you want someone to do your job?"

The problem is, the Sanitation Department no longer collects trees for
mulching. Until this year, sanitation workers were 
paid overtime to pick up trees after Christmas and deliver them to the parks
for chipping. But the department cut the 
collection program last year, hoping to save $1.5 million.

As a result, trees collected by the department now end up in landfills in
the company of the rest of the city's voluminous 
garbage. The Department of Parks and Recreation, along with community
groups, still offers tree mulching, but it is done 
without the considerable assistance of sanitation trucks.

"It's very beneficial for the park," James T. Dowell, executive director of
the Riverside Park Fund, said of the mulching 
operation. "We use the mulch. It is not only wonderfully fragrant, but it
provides protection for plantings. And it 
decomposes and provides nourishment."

Because of the Sanitation Department cutback, the Riverside Park Fund put
out the word to neighborhood and block 
associations late last year: if they would arrange for trees to be dumped at
a designated spot on each block, the fund 
would send a truck to pick them up and take them to the park for mulching.

On Thursday and Friday, Riverside Park Fund employees collected trees from
several dozen drop-off points on the 
Upper West Side. Using a truck that the park fund had bought and donated to
the Parks Department for use in the 
park, they carted the trees to a mulching site at 89th Street and Riverside

But on Saturday, the collection operation stopped abruptly.

"We were told Saturday morning that we could do no more street pickups," Mr.
Dowell said. The fund had plans to do 
some additional pickups farther uptown next Thursday and Friday in
connection with tree chipping scheduled for this 
weekend at 142nd Street and Riverside Drive.

"Because we've been asked by the Parks Department, we're not going to pick
up any more from the street until 
somebody gives us some direction that that's O.K.," Mr. Dowell said. "All
we've said is that somebody needs to work this 
out. And it obviously needs to be somebody up the food chain from us."

Mr. Nespoli said he learned late last week that sanitation workers had
spotted "trucks going house to house." He called 
the Sanitation Department. According to Vito A. Turso, a deputy commissioner
for the Sanitation Department, 
department officials contacted the Parks Department.

In an interview yesterday, Mr. Turso invoked the city's administrative code.
Under the code, the Sanitation Department 
has responsibility for collecting garbage. No other agency or organization,
he said, has the right to drive the streets and 
collect "sanitation material."

"I think if you, in your S.U.V., threw three or four trees from your and
your neighbors' home in the back and drove them 
over to the site, that'd be fine," he said. "But to either lease, rent, buy
or in some other means get a truck to start doing 
curbside collection of Christmas trees, which is the responsibility of the
Department of Sanitation, I think that is 
something that people might have to look at and find out if it's legal."

Megan Sheekey, a spokesman for the Parks Department, played down the
Christmas tree collection conflict. "I would 
just say that we'd be happy to coordinate with the sanitation union in the
future to be sure that they're comfortable with 
our efforts," she said.

Mr. Dowell, too, was circumspect.

"If this could be worked out, that would be terrific," he said. "But at the
same time, we aren't interested in causing a 
point of conflict with the Department of Sanitation or anybody else. I mean,
our hearts are pure here. We're just trying to 
take these trees and chip them and make use of them."

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