These autumn leaves don't inspire too many romantic songs
These autumn leaves don’t inspire too many romantic songs

Now that this year’s town elections are over, highway superintendents can get back to work doing the thing taxpayers most depend on them for: picking up our leaves.

The breezy, wet weather of the past few days has left yards throughout the East End a pile of soggy, colorful, slippery nuisances. The town’s not coming to pick them up for a few more weeks, so we might as well learn to live with the colorful, crispy, rotting tree parts on our lawns.

As a parting salvo to the good residents of Southold, outgoing Highway Superintendent Pete Harris has decided to put off picking up bagged leaves until Dec. 2.

Mr. Harris has been pissed off over picking up branches and whatnot since a bunch of people began clearing land and leaving piles of debris all over Southold after Hurricane Irene two years ago. Now who would do that?

As a result, there’s no fall brush pickup in Southold either. If you don’t like any of this, you can call new Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando to discuss it all after he’s sworn in Jan. 1. More information on Southold’s leaf pickup program is available here.

The Cutchogue transfer station is accepting brush free of charge for the month of November, and you can bring leaves there any time of year free of charge as long as you don’t do anything stupid like put them in plastic bags.

Over in Riverhead, the land of “leave everything at the curb and we’ll pick it up because it’s included in your tax bill,” all you’ve gotta do is pile your leaves up at the curb in one big pile and the highway department will take them away. Everybody seems to love Riverhead Highway Superintendent Geo Woodson, who took home a hefty 79.5 percent of the vote in his re-election campaign this fall, and this easy-peasy leaf pickup method couldn’t have hurt his numbers.

Leaf pickup in Riverhead begins at the east end of the town at Laurel Lane on Dec. 2. Highway crews with their big sucking machine plan to make it as far west as Northville Turnpike by Dec. 9 and as far west as Hulse Landing Road in Wading River by Dec. 16.

If that’s too much of a bother for you, you can put your leaves in recyclable bags and throw them at the curb for the garbage truck any old time of year. They even give away free leaf bags at the highway department headquarters on Osborn Avenue. More information is available online here.

Southampton Town required residents to put their leaves in bags if they wanted them picked up at the curb after the mess caused by Hurricane Sandy last year, and Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor is again requiring that leaves be bagged this year, unless you’re more than 73 years old and can’t do all that bagging on your own. If that’s the case, you have to go down to the highway department and prove your age in order to register for the program. The cleanup begins Nov. 25 in six different leaf pickup districts. Does anyone want to wager on when they’ll get to Noyac? More information is online here.

All of these leaf pickup schemes probably sound like pure luxury to the poor residents of East Hampton, who lost their right to leaf pickup three years ago during the Wilkinson administration’s tight hold on town finances after they inherited a multi-million dollar deficit. Representatives of the highway department said Friday that they were at the mercy of the town board, which nixed the program. There’s no money in East Hampton’s proposed 2014 budget for leaf pickup, either, but with a new administration coming in January 1, leaves could again be on the agenda two years from now.

In the meantime, you can bring them to the dump or compost them, have your “guy” take care of them, or make them into little Martha Stewart decorations or, I dunno, just use your imagination. And don’t forget that you live in East Hampton, one of the few places on the planet where imaginations are still worth something.

Meanwhile, these fractal, crispy signs of cold weather are rotting on all of our porches. It’s a beautiful weekend. Go out and rake.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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