Rock Hill's yard cart solution to debris begins to catch on with residents

Two months after it was launched, Rock Hill's yard cart program is off to what its supervisor calls a promising start.

The carts are available to 4,200 homes in the northeastern part of the city as part of the initial rollout. As of Friday, about 39 percent of those homes were using them.

Roughly 100 new orders are coming in each week, evidence that customers are catching on after some initial skepticism, said Bobby Banks, the city's public works director.

The carts, available for $45 until April, are used to collect leaves, grass clippings and yard debris.

"I think we've gotten past the $45 gripe," Banks said. "They're starting to see some of the benefits -- the streets are a lot cleaner, the yard trash is not sitting out there all week. Rolling it out isn't as difficult as a lot of folks thought it was going to be."

In approving the program this summer, city officials made a simple argument: Over time, the carts will save people money. They are fairly easy to maneuver, and they can prevent clutter from piling up on curbs and storm drains.

The price tag initially turned off Bristol Park homeowner Brandon Guffy, who called it a backhanded way to raise the cost of city services. But Guffy has warmed to the concept since.

"I thought it was something being forced on the residents," said Guffy, former president of the Bristol Park Homeowners Association. "I'm an advocate of it now, just seeing how much cleaner things are. There are still some branches and stuff people put out. But for the most part, I don't see them like I used to."

Banks said he expected a third of homeowners to sign up immediately, which is why the 39 percent participation level came as positive news.

Eventually, Banks predicts about half of all residents will take part.

Homeowners in the southeastern part of the city, including those in Spencer Estates, Waterford, the Country Club area and Taylor Oaks, can get carts when the second phase kicks off Jan. 19.

The program will be available to the entire city by the week of April 8. At that point, loose grass clippings will no longer be collected unless they're dumped into the carts.

The only exception is during the peak leaf season in November, December and January, when city crews will use vacuum trucks to pick up loose piles of leaves at curbside.

Matt Garfield • 329-4063

About the yard carts

• The cost is $45 if orders are placed by April 1, 2009. Otherwise, the charge will be equal to the cost to the city, which is currently $57. The fee can be paid all at once or in installments of $4.50 a month for 10 months.

• Residents can buy up to three carts.

• To order or ask questions about the carts, call 329-5594 or visit cityofrockhill.com. Orders can be placed online.