BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The crisp, sunny weather on Sunday, March 17, provided the perfect backdrop for the Adopt-A-Park Litter Clean Up at Passaic River Park. The event, sponsored by the Berkeley Heights Innovation and Sustainability Alliance (Sustainable Berkeley Heights) in conjunction with the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation (Union County), attracted approximately 40 people of all ages to the northern tip of Summit Avenue.

The volunteers included members from a number of local organizations, including several members of the Township Council, several members of the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission (BHEC), and a representative from the Downtown Beautification Committee (DBC), as well as members of Scout Pack 368, members of Girl Scout Troop 40568, and their parents.

Betty Ann Kelly, an Environmental Specialist with Union County, supplied all volunteers with reinforced gloves, plastic bags, “litter grabbers,” and wheelbarrows so that everyone felt comfortable grabbing and picking up as much litter as they were able.

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“We’re very pleased that so many people came out to support our mission and participate in this effort,” said Kim Diamond, President of Sustainable Berkeley Heights.  “Now that the snow has melted, it’s easy for anyone to see all of the litter that mars the park’s landscape and pollutes our town.  This clean up was a great way for residents to come together, do something positive as a group for our community and the environment, and feel good about being “green” on St. Patrick’s Day!”

This clean up was the first event that Sustainable Berkeley Heights, a recently-formed non-profit entity, has sponsored. This organization’s mission is to develop, promote, and implement solutions that will leverage the Berkeley Heights community’s strengths to improve the environment, accelerate innovation, actualize sustainability measures, foster collaboration among community members, and transform the Berkeley Heights community into a smart city for future generations.

According to Nicole Castrovinci, a Troop Leader of Girl Scout Troop 40568, “[The clean up] was a lot of work, but it was very rewarding.  It made us aware of a place we didn’t even know about.”

At the end of the clean-up, which lasted just under two-hours and covered approximately one quarter of a mile, the group had collected 11 bags of trash, 9 bags of recyclables, a mound of discarded Christmas trees and other brush, logs that had been sawed into large pieces, wooden poles, and various types of construction materials.  Some of the more unusual items gathered included a truck tire that had been wedged between the riverbank and a tree, as well as a partially-dismantled lawn mower.

Next Sunday, March 24 from 2 to 4 p.m., Sustainable Berkeley Heights invites the community to join them, Val’s Valiants, the BHEC, and the DBC in a clean up both sides of Snyder Avenue, beginning at the Snyder Park parking lot and continuing north on Snyder Avenue to the Bank of America building.