North Hempstead Town officials want to trim back their reliance on the gas-powered tools that landscapers use to maintain public gardens and parks.
Town leaders recently purchased electric leaf blowers, weed whackers and tree trimmers because they believe the tools are cheaper, weigh less and are more eco-friendly. Workers in the parks department will use the tools this year at Clark Botanic Gardens in Albertson. Town officials want to use their experience with electric blowers to someday craft a law that limits the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
Supervisor Judi Bosworth said Thursday that there’s no timetable for when a draft law could be presented, but ultimately the law would address what kinds of leaf blowers could be used and at what hours of the day.
“We’re in the exploratory stage and we want to make sure it is something we can make enforceable,” she said.
North Hempstead Parks Commissioner Jill Weber said that if the tools can survive the year, she will look to buy more electric blowers and use them at parks across the town.
Bosworth’s intent for new legislation comes as long-awaited relief for some town residents, who have complained to town leaders for months about gas-powered leaf blowers creating unwanted noise and polluting the air with dust and gas emissions.
New Hyde Park resident Alan Franklin, for example, has urged town officials to ban the blowers, saying he must wear a gas mask and headphones to enjoy his home when landscapers are around.
“We need to regulate these dirty tools,” Franklin told council members during their May meeting. “When you’re retired and want to enjoy yourself, you can’t. They drive you back into your property.”
Great Neck Estates has already banned the use of gas-powered leaf blowers between June 15 and Sept. 15. Oyster Bay is considering a restriction as well.
Lawn maintenance equipment has evolved in recent decades into versions that use no gasoline yet maintain high horsepower. But those newer versions still kick hazardous particulate matter into the air, said Bonnie Sager, co-founder of Huntington CALM, an advocacy group that pushes for banning gas-powered leaf blowers.
Sager, an optometrist who lives in Huntington, said more Long Island communities are considering restricting gas-powered leaf blowers because the tools are noisy and the particulate matter is especially harmful to children and senior citizens “with compromised immune systems.”
Banning gas-powered versions of leaf blowers is the best and most healthy option for everyone on Long Island, Sager said.
“People are paying weeks after weeks to have their homes bathed in toxic pollutants,” Sager said. “And if you work from home, you’re constantly being interrupted and you have to close your windows.”
CURBING USE OF GAS-POWERED LEAF BLOWERS
Other locales across New York State have already restricted or are looking into curtailing gas-powered leaf blowers.
Great Neck Estates
The village passed a local ordinance in 1997 banning their use from June 15 to Sept. 15. Violators could face a fine imposed by the village judge.
Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said in March that the town is considering restricting the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. The town’s planning and development commissioner said the tools cause problems for residents.
In 2007, the city passed a gas-powered leaf blower ban, which is in effect from June 1 to Sept. 30. Failure to comply with the ban is punishable by fines ranging from $250 to $5,000.
In 2008, the city in Westchester County decided to ban gas-powered leaf blowers between June 1 and Sept. 30. Violators could face a $250 fine or up to 15 days in jail.