Riverhead Town Hall in June 2019.

Riverhead Town Hall in June 2019. Credit: James Carbone

Riverhead's Highway Department has announced it will not commence pick up of loose leaves from the curbs of residents’ homes until Jan. 3.

The Town Board voted 3-1 on Nov. 10 to require the department to undertake and complete loose leaf pickup by Nov. 30. However, a recent notice on the town’s website informed residents of the delay.

"As residents are aware, it takes several weeks to go through the entire Town to complete loose leaf pickup, but it can take much longer depending on the accumulation of leaves and weather conditions," the notice states. "We apologize for the delay and appreciate your patience."

Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson did not immediately return requests for comment.

Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar told Newsday on Wednesday Woodson informed the town soon after the board voted on the resolution that his department would not pick up the leaves as required.

"The incoming superintendent [Michael Zaleski] has agreed to pick up the leaves once he takes office on Jan. 2," Aguiar said. "All the information and pickup locations and dates have been posted on our town’s website."

While town attorneys considered bringing the matter to litigation, Aguiar said rescheduling the pickup to January would be the simplest way to resolve the issue, and the board will address it further in 2022.

Town officials and residents have previously stated they felt delaying the pickup of loose leaves would pose a safety hazard to their communities.

Woodson, who is retiring on Dec. 31, has told the board for several years that he felt it was not his department’s responsibility to do loose leaf pickups, and that the town’s Sanitation Department should handle it instead.

Woodson said it would cost his department upward of $250,000 to pick up the leaves.

The new pickup schedule will begin on Jan. 3 starting at Hulse Landing Road heading toward the Riverhead/Brookhaven boundary, then starting from Northville Turnpike to Hulse Landing Road on Jan. 13 and finishing on Jan. 20 on Laurel Lane to Northville Turnpike, according to the town’s website.

In the meantime, residents are being asked to consider placing leaves in paper yard waste bags, along with tree branches under 4 feet long and piling them neatly at their curbsides for pickup on regularly scheduled yard waste collection days.

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