Silvis sizzles over November burn ban vote

There’s a hot topic on the November ballot for Silvis voters. The city of nearly 7,500 residents will decide on a plan to ban leaf burning.

A smoky scene is a rite of fall in Woody Woodworth’s backyard. That’s as the longtime Silvis resident burns leaves on a chilly Monday.

“I used to bag a long time ago,” he said. “But I’ve got more trees now.”

That crackle could now become a thing of the past. That’s if Silvis votes to join other communities to ban leaf burning.

“I think it’s a good idea to keep it,” he said. “But I’m probably in the minority, you know.”

Alderman Caryn Unsicker used to burn leaves. Now, she’s leading the charge to stop it in Silvis.

“They’re tired of the stink, smell and pollution,” she said.

Silvis residents like Woodworth know that time might be running out for leaf burning. The city is close to topping EPA clean air regulations.

“If it bothers people, that’s what it’s all about,” Woodworth said.

Getting rid of all this will come at a price. Silvis estimates it will cost the city an extra $20,000 to ban burning.

Silvis is looking at burning alternatives like mulching, expanding a subscription yard waste service or sharing services with other local cities.

“There’s another side to this coin,” said Silvis City Clerk Jim Nelson. “Who pays for it? The citizens will always basically have to pay for it.”

Woodworth understands the predicament. It’s pay now, or pay more later.

“I wouldn’t like it, but I don’t know what else I could do,” he said.

The view from its water tower sums it up. It’s something that defies their city slogan.

“They see the smoke and smudge in the air,” Unsicker said. “It’s time for Silvis, the City of Progress, to get rid of this.”

It’s a smoky scene that will be up for vote next week in Silvis.

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