The FOX 8 I-Team sparked change, and now many residents including senior citizens are relieved.
Wednesday, the FOX 8 I-Team broke the story of how the city had suddenly ended the program without any advance notice. That sparked a firestorm from residents and council members. The decision left many city officials and residents outraged because people pay taxes for the service and many cannot bag leaves on their own.
On Thursday, the I-Team pressed Cleveland’s Chief Operating Officer on the sudden end of the program, and Mayor Justin Bibb refused to come out of his office to talk to us.
Thursday evening, Bonnie Teeuwen, COO, told the I-Team the City was considering all options.
Friday morning, the city released a news release saying in response to feedback, officials will resume the traditional leaf collection program.
We saw 74-year-old Jim Merklinger blowing leaves outside his home off West 130th Street. He said he was very happy to hear the city will come through again to get leaves piled on the tree lawn.
He said, “Oh, I felt like putting the leaves on Mayor Bibb’s front lawn and seeing if they picked his leaves up. That would be fair.”
The I-Team also got an email from a 75-year-old woman who said she’s had two shoulder surgeries. To her, the leaf pick-up program is priceless.
The Mayor’s Office first said the City would not be picking up leaves this year since not everyone gets the service. Only about a third of City residents get the service and not every block is lined with trees, yet everyone pays for it with their taxes.
But, not everyone needs the same police protection or snow plowing either, yet everyone pays the same taxes. So many taxpayers and Council members screamed about the cut in service.
This week, a man blowing leaves on the east side told us, “Well, I don’t know what seems to be the problem. I pay good taxes here.”
City COO Bonnie Teeuwen added, “We’ve heard from the residents and the frustration that they have. That’s all part of the learning process for us.”
In its news release, the City said, “Residents in previously designated high-generation areas must have their leaves raked to the tree lawn by Nov. 13, 2022. Pickup will begin Monday, Nov. 14 and run for several weeks.”
Cleveland City Council plans to hold a hearing on all of this. Part of the discussion will focus on possibly expanding the program next year.