Syracuse giving away free mulch

Don’t buy mulch. The city of Syracuse is giving it away for free.

That’s the message Deputy Department of Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wright wants to convey.

This year, the city’s DPW estimates it will process more than 80,000 cubic yards of mulch consisting of leaves, grass clippings, broken tree branches and any other excess yard waste, Wright said. Instead of throwing the mulch out, the city has opted to give it away.

“We’ve been giving it away for 10 years,” Wright said. “Mostly we have a few businesses and some residents that take it.”

The mulch is available, free of charge, for pickup at the city’s DPW site on City Crossroads Drive. Local businesses such as golf courses and landscapers take a majority of the mulch, but the city has set aside a separate pile for residents, who take more than 400 cubic yards a week, Wright said.

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Panhandling ordinance dropped

Syracuse Common Council members applauded the administration of Mayor Matt Driscoll’s decision to withdraw a proposal outlawing aggressive panhandling, Monday.

“I was opposed to it from the beginning,” said Councilor-at-Large Kate O’Connell, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee. “We should be trying to help our homeless population. Passing a law isn’t going to help.”

The new ordinance would’ve lowered the maximum fine from $250 to $100 while also giving judges the option of sentencing offenders to community service rather than paying a fine, said O’Connell. The ordinance also would’ve outlawed “aggressive” panhandling of any type.

Aggressive panhandling, said District Five Councilor William Simmons, is when beggars continue to ask for money after being told no, or to harass, touch or threaten people in any way. But the ordinance drew controversy on the vagueness of the word “aggressive.”

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