Cuyahoga gets attention, cleaned up

Mariana Silva

After last year’s success, the second annual Clean Up the Cuyahoga River promises to bring more volunteers and more attention to one of the city’s most important natural resources tomorrow.

Two groups will meet at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday for the cleanup, one at Tannery Park and the other at Brust Park.

“The river was really one of the reasons why Kent is located where it’s at,” said John Idone, Kent Parks and Recreation department director.

After the amount of trash collected last year, Idone said the community has seen Cuyahoga River as a more vital part of the Kent community.

“As the automobile came around, we turned our back to the river and focused on the road,” Idone said. “Now that seems to be shifting back the other way. People are starting to appreciate the resource we have in our backyard.”

Idone added the development of the hiking and biking trail along the river, also done in partnership with Kent State, has contributed to how the community looks at the natural resources available to them.

“Having these cleanups a couple of times in the year really does a lot to restore the area to its natural state,” Idone said.

He said although people notice natural beauty and advantages of the river more, they also realize excessive pollution and littering issues.

“We are cleaning up five tons each year,” said Chris Hendricks, Adventure Center graduate assistant. “That shows how dirty the river is. Hopefully we get somewhere close to that this year and we can get it pretty clean.”

During Clean Up last year, Hendricks said he took a phone booth and hundreds of tires out of the river.

Water Reclamation Facility Manager Robert Brown, who is responsible for the clean up under Middlebury Bridge, will remove debris left from recent repairs on Crain and Fairchild avenues. The bridge is one of the five locations where trash will be collected.

Because of the weight of the debris and danger presented by steep riverbanks, Brown said he has picked a crew of 12 people to work specifically in the area instead of choosing volunteers on Saturday.

“There is a temporary bridge for the equipment that is crossing the river,” Brown said. “So the river is really restrictive right there and it has the tendency that, if the water is a little higher, it can get a little swift in there and we got some safety concerns over that.”

The trash drop off points will be located along the river at Fred Fuller Park, Middlebury Bridge, Fish Creek, Brust Park and Waterworks Park. By the end of the day, each location will handle the disposal of the trash collected.

Portage, Summit, Cuyahoga, Minerva and Mahoning counties are all involved with trash collection and disposal.

Although all canoes and kayaks available for the cleanup were already rented at the beginning of the week, Hendricks said those who wish to be on the river could bring their own boats.

As many as 40 people, mostly students, have already signed up to help by using boats.

He said he is still looking for volunteers who want to help clean up the banks, the trails of Tannery and Burst parks, as well as along the river.

“I want to get everybody together and make it kind of a celebration of this resource that we have,” Hendricks said. “I want everybody to have a chance to paddle down the river and see the river and also clean it up, meet some new people and have a good time.”

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