BERLIN – The recent clean up of Hudson Branch in Berlin yielded over 18 tons of trash, staff reported this week.
Town staff and volunteers from local green groups and state agencies recently spent three days cleaning up the littered waterway, which has long been used as an unauthorized and illegal dump site, staff reported at the Monday night Berlin Mayor and Council meeting.
The work, cleaning up 400 feet of stream, took three days, said Berlin Public Works Director Mike Gibbons.
The multi-day stream clean-up effort yielded 37,000 pounds of trash, or 18.5 tons, Gibbons reported.
“On a normal [garbage] pick-up day in town, we’ll pick up maybe 12,000 pounds or 14,000 pounds,” said Gibbons.
According to Gibbons, much of the trash removed from the waterway was large items, dominated by household furnishings. He noted that mattresses and couches, as well as shopping carts, were removed from the stream and its banks during the clean up.
“I can’t believe how much weight came out of there,” said Berlin Mayor Gee Williams.
“We got it looking pretty good. I think it’s going to help with the drainage upstream,” Gibbons said.
The next challenge facing the town, Gibbons said, is to keep Hudson Branch from turning into a clandestine waste dump once again.
Williams said the town must make it difficult if not impossible for people to dump trash at Hudson Branch. The mayor characterized the trash dumping along the stream as abuse of Hudson Branch.
“There’s got to be something,” said Williams.
“I’d like to make it impossible. I’d like to make it undesirable,” said Steve Farr, director of Grow Berlin Green, a non-profit focused on environmental issues in the town of Berlin.
The Hudson Branch waterway is a valued community resource, Farr said.
Townsfolk and area residents need to be educated on taking care of the stream, Williams said, and that dumping trash there is not permitted.
Farr noted that there are many different ways to educate the public about Hudson Branch, including signage on site.
“Between us it won’t get forgotten,” said Williams.
The town also held a spring clean-up day for Henry Park and Stephen Decatur Park last weekend, which attracted over 75 volunteers, including townsfolk and town staff.
“That’s fantastic. That’s more people out there than I realized,” Williams said.
The effort collected two dump truck loads, approximately 3 tons, of litter and plant waste, about half of which will be turned into compost.
Volunteers weeded, planted a rain garden and picked up trash Saturday.
About three tons of plant and leaf waste collected during the clean up will be composted.
The number of volunteers who turned out to work on the parks last Saturday is a good indicator of the community’s commitment to, and pride in, Berlin’s green spaces, Williams said.
“Volunteerism is one of the indicators of the spirit and vitality of a community,” said Williams. “I can say Berlin’s spirit is very, very good.”