On Saturday, April 23, volunteers from the Ell Pond Committee, the Unitarian Universalist Church, the Melrose Recycling Committee, and other organizations turned out in solid numbers to clean up the pond and other public areas in the city, including the nearby Middle School and High School grounds. A light drizzle that turned into a steadier rain about mid-morning was not enough to keep these dedicated volunteers at home, and the result was a more attractive visual experience at the pond and other locations.
Actually, the Melrose Girl Scouts got the jump on Community Cleanup Day one week earlier. More than 30 scouts from troops 68049, 62900, 62846, 62853, and 76245, led by Brownie troop 69008, executed a cleanup and beautification of Bowden Park on Saturday, April 16. In addition to picking up trash, the scouts planted annual flowers in pinks, whites, and purples inside the Girl Scout “Friendship Circle,” an area donated by the Girl Scouts. The scouts also picked up sticks and leaves and planted annual flowers and bulbs in other parts of the park, including around a tree dedicated to the late Melrose Girl Scout leader Bev Mara. Visitors to Sally Frank’s Farmers Market at the park, beginning in June, will certainly appreciate the work done by the scouts. Well done, ladies!
On April 23, Ell Pond cleanup volunteers gathered at the Knoll and began the job of picking up trash all around the pond, cleaning up brush, and engaging in some invasive species removal. The Ell Pond Navy (two intrepid young women in their kayaks) took to the water to pick up trash in areas that were less accessible from the shore. Among their collection: at least two tires and a bicycle frame. The Ell Pond Committee also engaged in some new plantings, including holly and cedar trees near the Dog Park.
Other volunteers also gathered at the Knoll and fanned out to tackle the mess at some of the other public spaces in the town. A small team went to the Common, while others cleaned up the Skate Park, the Crystal Street tennis courts, and the Knoll itself.
A big task was the cleanup of the High School and Middle School grounds. While the number of discarded plastic bottles appeared to be down from the cleanups undertaken in years past, there were still areas of concern. Special thanks should go to the team of volunteers that spent about two hours removing a large volume of trash from the small marsh that separates the Middle School from the ball fields. That was one wet, dirty job!
Altogether, enough trash was picked up during the morning event to fill at least one DPW dump truck. A walk around the pond the next day, during which about a dozen turtles were spotted sunning on a log, yellow-rumped warblers darted through the trees, and a bald eagle and red-tailed hawk were seen soaring overhead, demonstrated that the cleanup effort was well worth it.
Another hike on Sunday, in the Towner’s Pond area, showed that the cleanup job in our city is far from done. The Towner’s Pond trail is a lovely walk, with leaves just now unfolding and birds such as warblers, vireos, and thrushes returning from the south. At one point on the trail, however, the hikers encountered the remains of a major beer party, with hundreds of cans strewn about. A task for another day. Perhaps those who enjoyed the party could be encouraged to clean up after themselves?