Some residents irked by Richmond’s new leaf collection plan: ‘I think it’s irresponsible’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Some neighbors upset that their leaves have not been picked up despite being bagged for months are questioning if Richmond's new collection method is working.

This comes after the city changed its strategy for collecting the 62-square miles of leaves crews pick up yearly. In the past, the city would vacuum up what homeowners raked to the street twice a year. Then that changed to once a year.

But now that there is a new leaf collection system in place, some folks are curious if it is working and saving the city money.

A pile of leaves awaiting collected in Stratford Hills.

A pile of leaves awaiting collected in Stratford Hills.

Stratford Hills resident Theresa Rodman has concerns with the new program.

"I think it's irresponsible how they've decided to change it," Rodman said. "It's a big waste of money."

Rodman said she has spotted issues with the program.

Theresa Rodman

Theresa Rodman

"Our neighbor had put out 10 bags with on their regular collection day, Tuesday,” Rodman explained. “The truck came by, picked up their super cans, picked up five bags and drove up the road."

Other folks have posted on social media by homeowners stuck with leaves beside the road for months.

"I can't imagine what it has cost for them to go out and do this vacuuming sporadically and miss this one here and there and come back later and get the same area,” Rodman wondered. “It's got to be a huge waste of money."

Bobby Vincent

Bobby Vincent

However, Richmond Public Works Director Bobby Vincent said the new system is working well.

“I'm very pleased with the way the program has worked,” Vincent said.

Vincent said the new system has the city collecting up to ten bags left beside garbage cans and homeowners can pay $30 to have their leaves vacuumed.

"We're nearing the end of February and we've just about got the city clean,” Vincent said.

The change in how leaves are collected was designed to be more efficient and save the city money.

"We have certainly spent less,” Vincent said. “In the past we spent up to $2.5 million on leaf collection and we were still collecting leaves well into the month of April.”

Vincent said the city has collected 400 tons of bagged leaves or 26,000 bags so far this season. There have been 1500 requests for the vacuum service and 1100 of those have been completed.

Additionally, Vincent said his department has issued 200 violation notices to people who have not raked their leaves in accordance to the program or have allowed their piles to blow into the street.

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