SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Irvington Avenue is a little greener after a group of local residents teamed up with Clean Sweep South Orange and the Irvington Avenue Corridor Advisory Committee (IACAC) to beautify the area on Sunday in an event entitiled "Clean Up, Green Up."

Nearly 40 men, women and children were present at the beginning of the event. “So far it’s early, but people are coming,” Chair of Beautification Subcommittee Olivia Lewis-Chang said.

Local residents came with their children to help with the beautification process, enjoy live music and food, and to become better acquainted with their neighbors.

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“We only moved in last year,” local resident Catherine Cronin said. “And being only walking distance from cafes and restaurants was part of what made our house appealing.  Community gardening is such a great way to get to know neighbors and be outside and be together and do something together that’s tangible.”

“There are two arms of this event, the clean-up and green-up,” Event Chairperson Tracey Randinelli said. “And the clean-up portion is Clean Sweep South Orange which is going to be picking up trash and that kind of thing. The green up portion is maintaining and taking care of the beds, pulling stuff out and planting new stuff.”

Although Clean Sweep was attached to IACAC and the volunteers for the day, the group does clean-ups quite often. The group leader of Clean Sweep South Orange, Matt Mattheiss said they do a regular sweep about once a week.

The event was sponsored by local restaurants including Munchie’s, Blue Plate Special, Inkosi Café and Lalibela which provided food for volunteers. Local businesses provided additional help with gardening and gave incentives; Two Great Kids gave discounts to the volunteers, Stan’s Service Center provided additional sponsorship, and Project Sign helped with posters, Chair of IACAC Doug Zacker said.

The beautification of Irvington Avenue is just a small start of improvements for South Orange. The board of trustees committed $100,000 in the capital budget for the current fiscal year for long term improvement.

“We’re looking at kiosks throughout the corridor and also new trash cans,” said Sheena Collum, South Orange trustee and chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee. “And we’re also looking at outdoor lighting, working with PSEG to double the mantles that are installed so it could double the wattage so it’s brighter at night. We’re also working on the FRONTS program which is a match and grant program for businesses to upgrade their signage and their awnings.”