Volunteers sought for Earth Day clean-up projects

Volunteers clean up a flower bed during a past Westfield Earth Day Clean Up. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS PHOTO)

WESTFIELD-Volunteers from around the globe will once again mark Earth Day – April 24 – by choosing projects to clean up the environment in their neighborhoods and communities.

At the heart of the 51st Earth Day is EarthDay.ORG – the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with 150,000 partners in nearly 192 countries to build environmental democracy, according to its website.

“More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world,” notes the organization.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still prevalent locally, the city will not observe hosting or organizing a “large gathering” in April, according to Meredith Borenstein, conservation coordinator for the City of Westfield.

“Folks that want to help can contact my office as I’m sending individual groups/pods out to specific locations and the Department of Public Works (DPW) will be picking up the trash for us,” said Borenstein, adding she is still in need of donations for trash bags and gloves.

For persons interesting in volunteering or donating, contact Borenstein at (413) 642-9308 or via email to [email protected]

Another local clean-up project scheduled for April 24 from 1-4 p.m. is the Earth Day Westfield Mural Cleanup, hosted by members of ArtWorks of Westfield. Volunteers can park at the Half Mile Falls area and municipal lot or around the area of Sackett Street, according to Shannon Chiba, who is overseeing the clean-up effort.

“We will meet behind the DPW at 28 Sackett St. and walk along the river to the mural,” said Chiba. “We will be cleaning the pathway and riverbank area under the mural all along the esplanade.”

Volunteers may bring their own trash bags and gloves, or they may use the items that will be provided by the Conservation Commission, added Chiba.

“They are excited for this endeavor and will be donating cleaning materials,” she added.

Chiba explained that ArtWorks has to ensure the area is clean and accessible to everyone for the summer painting of the mural.

“We need as many volunteers as we can,” said Chiba. “We hope to clean from the Whitney Park area all the way down to underneath the green bridge. Folks that help can get early spots to help paint in the summer as we will be assigning time slots to paint with artists.”

Chiba added that young people may help with the cleaning efforts, however, they must be supervised closely and encouraged to only clean what an adult allows.

“We should all be wearing gloves and socially distancing with masks when and where appropriate,” said Chiba.

Chiba is hopeful that local groups will also consider coming out to help on April 24, as well as see where the mural is planned and view the new additions to the rail trail.

“The esplanade looks gorgeous,” said Chiba. “Many folks have not seen or been over the trail on the north side. Commemorative bricks were installed on the trail above the mural by the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail and it is a great place to walk. Come and spend the day, and if you’d like to help clean, please do.”

For persons interested in more information on ArtWorks clean-up plans, visit Westfield Is Fantastic – The Mural on Facebook.

“The Earth Day river clean up around the Westfield Is Fantastic mural site and adjacent areas is part of a broader strategy to bring the community together through art and create more awareness of the extensive small park system located around the Westfield River waterfront,” said Bill Westerlind, ArtWorks president. “The mural will be a major attraction to the area and as people are drawn to the site, we are optimistic they will discover and return to the many recreational spaces at the waterfront including the Westfield River Esplanade, Women’s Temperance Park, Half Mile Falls Park, Wojtkiewicz Park, the Westfield River Walk, and the newest section of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail.”

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