STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Maybe it’s me, but it definitely seems to be getting noisier on Staten Island.
And I’m not talking just about those cars with modified engines that go screaming all over the place, revving so loud that you can hear them coming from blocks away and can still hear them long after they’ve passed.
No, it’s leaf blowers that are sparking my ire these days.
Is there an annoying, louder, or more intrusive sound?
This isn’t a judgment on folks who use them, so please don’t send any poison-pen emails my way. As anyone who knows me will know, I hate raking leaves. The leaf blower makes it much easier.
And I know it’s more the professional landscaping and gardening services that use them, at least from what I’ve seen, and that they’ve got clients all over the place and have to do things as efficiently as possible. I can’t blame them for using leaf blowers.
But there has to be a better way, something that doesn’t shatter everybody’s peace and quiet.
How many times has it happened: You’re sitting on your deck or your porch, having your morning coffee or tea. The sun is out. It’s not too hot or too cold. Maybe you’re thumbing through the news on your phone or reading an actual newspaper. Or maybe you’re just soaking in the calm of beautiful new day.
That noise is what you will hear until it stops. That metallic, harsh whine from a leaf blower, which cranks up at the same time as city noise laws.
It buzzes and snarls, and it goes on like a giant mechanical Hornet.
Then it’ll stop for a few seconds and you think you’ve blessedly been released from the aural assault.
But, it’s not. But, it soon restarts.
And even if it stops in one part of the neighborhood, there’s no guarantee that it won’t start up somewhere else in the vicinity later.
You also know how loud leaf blowers can be. The landscapers have to wear noise-canceling headphones while they’re using them.
As torture for prisoners of war, armies should make that snarling leaf blower noise.
This has even happened while I was on vacation. I’ve rented a nice cabin on a quiet lake somewhere. But someone else in the area just has to do their landscaping the same morning that I’m trying to do some soul-nourishing kayaking.
There’s nothing any of us can do about it.
Or is it?
WPDH-Radio, Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) recently reported that several Mid-Hudson Valley towns have laws that ban gas-powered leaf blowers.
Beacon, N.Y. has a law that limits residents to creating noise below 60 decibels. This is less than what is made by a gas-powered leaf bender.
The Village of New Paltz currently allows leaf blowers, but officials announced that they’re considering a law that would only allow quieter, electric models to be used.
WYRK-Radio in Buffalo reported that a ban will be placed on gas-powered leaf-blowers in the Village Larchmont in upstate West Chester County. The ban will take effect January 1st 2022.
It’s the first complete ban on gas-powered leaf blowers in the Northeast, the radio station said. For the fall cleanup, electric leaf blowers are only to be used between October 15 and December 15, and not in April.
State Senator John Liu (D.Queens), introduced this year a bill to ban gas-powered leaf blowers in the state between May 1st and September 30.
So maybe that’s a solution. Don’t ban leaf blowers entirely, but use the quieter electric versions.
I am happy to report that my electric edger and chainsaw are much quieter that the gas-powered versions I used.
So maybe there’s hope.
Now if only we could get rid of those loud cars.