‘No permission needed’ to cleanup anytime at parks

‘No permission needed’ to cleanup anytime at parks
Group shot from Boone Park South

Riverside Avondale Preservation’s park and coastal cleanup the morning of September 18 removed 61 garbage bags of litter and other refuse, though the 5 Points volunteers and RAP director Shannon Blankenship, site captain, accounted for roughly half the haul.

They collected 31 garbage bags, but there was more interesting refuse not appropriate for a trash bag removed from local parks and shorelines.

Ninety-eight volunteers at seven sites recovered more common trash — cigarette butts, drink bottles and cans and food packages — but also for disposal, ultimately, by the city: a lamp, traffic cones, children pools, several tires and a long-deceased squirrel.

RAP is a nonprofit organization headquartered at 2623 Hershel St. organized the clean-up effort aided by volunteers dedicated to specific neighborhood parks, including at least one friends group for Riverside Park, who more regularly helps to maintain park grounds along with city parks staff.

Volunteers at Riverside Parks said city maintenance personnel will remove larger items, yard debris, fallen limbs when they’re placed near the many trash bins located throughout the park. They planted fresh native plants and flowers as part of their landscaping effort in conjunction with the cleanup.

“All the large parks and even some of the smaller ones, RAP and the City of Jacksonville, have tried to initiate giving smaller groups [the ability] to kind of take charge,” said Riverside Park volunteer and site captain Conner Pumphrey. “Some of our parks are pretty large. They push for getting advocacy groups together for the parks … There’s someone in the park everyone couple of weeks … You should never have to wait for permission to do the right thing.”

All-in, the effort drew 93 sign-ins, each of whom received a $5 discount coupon for food trucks located at the Riverside Arts Market that sunny Saturday morning.

Ms. Blankenship said the clean-up sites included traditional parks but also the 5 Points business district, John Gorrie Dog Park and overgrown alleyways in the historic district. Mulching was added at locations to reduce runoff carrying litter, fertilizer and other contamination into waterways.

“It starts right here. Our historic neighborhoods are built with direct outputs to our waterways. It requires we take extra care to prevent litter,” said Ms. Blankenship.

“In 5 Points, we couldn’t have done the planting and landscaping without an IBERIABANK donation that covered the cost of materials,” she said.

“As Executive Director at RAP, I’d like to see our community host two major cleanups a year, in March and September in connection with the [City of Jacksonville] annual St. Johns River Celebration and International Coastal Cleanup. This timing will make sure we are regularly working to improve our parks and will build a sense of community unparalleled in other parts of Jacksonville.”

By Joel Addington
Resident Community News

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