I feel the spring far off, far off,
The faint, far scent of bud and leaf-
Oh, how can spring take heart to come
To a world in grief?
Sarah Teasdale’s ‘Spring in War Time’ was published in 1917, during WWI when everyone was in shock over the massive numbers of casualties and years of prolonged fighting. She wonders how spring can continue to come, the sun can continue to shine, and plants bloom under the shadow of world events.
I think many of us can relate to the difficulties of the last year, as we cautiously welcome signs of spring with the hope that this season will be different than last year, as Bristol records 5,000 positive COVID cases and 131 deaths.
As spring arrives, it does appear as if we have turned the corner and are now poised to embrace a return to normalcy. We can see this with the signs of Bristol schools returning to full in-person learning this week; reduced mask restrictions, the sounds of sports coming from the fields, courts and tracks, and the buzz of activity within city departments.
Last week, the city sponsored its first Community Wide Clean-Up, which saw over 200 community volunteers take to the parks and public spaces to wipe away the vestiges of last year, both physically and literally. The Mayor’s Office was a hive of activity as Executive Administrator Cathy Savino distributed supplies and maps to those participating. Bright yellow t-shirts dotted the streets as volunteers tackled the West End, the railroad tracks, their own neighborhoods, Memorial Boulevard and other parks, Riverside Ave.; Clark Ave., and Lake Ave., to name a few.
At the end of the day, these volunteers picked up a total of 13,360 pounds (6.68 Tons) of trash. Including First Place Winners - Brian’s Angels, who cleaned along the railroad tracks; Second Place Winners - Rebecca & Anthony Savino, who have committed to cleaning the Clark Ave. area on their daily walks; and the Third Place Winners, Charles Cyr and his family, who cleaned from South Street, over Mountain Road, to Lake Ave. and back to Riverside Ave.
Thanks to a variety of local businesses there were also prizes for those who found the most unique items including the Rotary Club and Interact Club who uncovered blue painted coconuts; Lorian Marquez and Tereliz Domingo who came across a computer, and Jamie Fournier who found an electronic tablet. There were also retainers, a bra, and a Gulf gas station sign found.
Our goal is to continue these efforts so that the Clean Up becomes a routine for residents, as well as bringing a heightened awareness to businesses to take care of their properties. We have lots of yellow t-shirts and litter supplies available to those who would like to join our efforts. Please call the Mayor’s Office to sign up and receive alerts about upcoming activities including the Park’s Green Team efforts to clean up Parks. Or, you can work independently at your own convenience.
With the large amount of investment happening downtown and in other areas, we need our gateway areas to shine as an important “first impression” for those traveling to, or through, Bristol. This would be easy to accomplish if everyone did their part, collectively and collaboratively.
Since last week, I have been sending letters and calling businesses and residents/landlords who have issues so that they can become partners in keeping the City clean. We will also be approaching the schools and fast food establishments to do education to reduce litter. The Public Works Department has a large menu of services including bulk pick-ups, permits for the Transfer Station where one may dispose of a large variety of items. The City has a Property Maintenance Code by which tickets will be issued for violations. We also encourage those with smartphone to download the free app “Really Simply Reporting,” (light blue icon showing a tool box) which allows you to take a picture of litter, road hazards, abandoned shopping carts and other blight issues. The app will then add coordinates and send an email to City Hall for the issue to be addressed.
We thank all of the volunteers and businesses who are doing their part to show Bristol at its best, and invite you to join us as well. To view all the photos from the Community Clean Up, please visit: https://bristolallheart.com/community-clean-up-day/
Ellen Zoppo-Sassu is the mayor of Bristol.