Keep Jacksonville Beautiful cleanup volunteers make city sparkle

Keep Jacksonville Beautiful cleanup volunteers make city sparkle
Danielle Hicks, Rebecca Rhoda, Kelley Towne and Jennifer Bundy cleaned up the Willow Branch waterway between St. Johns Avenue and Park Street, while Theo (front) and Murph enjoyed the chance to frolic in the parks.

If the St. Johns River’s creeks and tributaries and the city’s parks shine a little brighter these days, it is thanks to the more than 420 volunteers who picked up litter as part of the City of Jacksonville and Keep Jacksonville Beautiful’s 24th Annual Cleanup Day March 16.

“We are pleased by the turnout of volunteers for the event considering the new competition created by the TPC (The Players Championship) this year,” said Chris Buckley, chairman of Keep Jacksonville Beautiful. “We anticipated over 400 volunteers once all our sites have been reported. The volunteers continue to express how great it makes them feel to go to a site that really needs cleaning and seeing the very positive results when they are through. Everyone states that our community benefits from these efforts. It would be wonderful one day if there were no longer a need to clean up after others, but until then, our volunteer crew takes pride in Jacksonville. I want to thank all those who took part in this effort!”

With 35 cleanup sites city-wide, including 10 in Jacksonville’s historic neighborhoods, volunteers labored for four hours on a Saturday morning logging a total of 1,008 volunteer hours and more than 561.5 bags of trash – a whopping 11,210 pounds – according to statistics provided by Dan Durbec, environmental programs specialist in the City’s Neighborhood Services Office. Durbec estimated the hourly volunteer value to the city at $20,443.

Margaret Johnston and her daughter were site captains at the Boone Park Tennis Courts, where they have volunteered as a family since 1994, the year before the first statewide St. Johns River Cleanup. Fourteen volunteers showed up this year to clean Little Fishweir Creek, they said, which contained traffic cones among the usual debris and trash. They also picked up a bagful of trash in the park’s picnic area.

Durbec said other oddities were discovered among the garbage collected around the city including six live baby rats at Castaway Island Preserve, a crack pipe and crack bags at Burnett Park in Mandarin, a bowling pin at Fort Caroline National Memorial, a pair of new but “smelly” size 13 Nike shoes at Hanna Park, and 11 bales of hay at the Naval Station Mayport Jetties #3.

At Craig Creek in San Marco, where San Marco Preservation Society President Bryan Mickler served as site captain, only six dedicated volunteers were present to collect two bags of trash. “I was a little disappointed in the turnout but was very happy with the people who showed up,” he said, attributing the lack of enthusiasm to The Players Championship and spring break. Among the volunteers were Sandy Myers of San Marco and St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman and her son, Mark, of Springfield. 

Several of the cleanup crews said the parks were in very good shape, and there was not a lot of trash. “That means we’ve been successful over the years,” said Star Bradshaw, site co-captain in Memorial Park.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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