STAMFORD, Conn. — Through the reeds at the Czescik Park estuary, you can see the high-rise buildings of downtown Stamford.
You used to see trash — lots and lots of trash — there, too. But a dedicated group of Stamford parks department employees and volunteers stepped up to remove more than 1.5 tons of litter. Nearly 26 people gave the park a much-needed cleanup Saturday, working their way through the estuary with protective white suits and trash bags.
“We’re making this a community park we’re all proud of,” volunteer Marge Pavlov said as she took a break from the cleanup.
Pavlov came prepared: She had donned her protective suit, yellow gloves and a white ‘Life is Good’ baseball cap. The park is a favorite of Pavlov, who lives in the area. She frequents the park with her chocolate lab, Bella.
One day she was walking Bella when she ran into Kathleen Matthews, who was sitting at the park's run-down gazebo. Eventually, she and Matthews teamed up to make various improvements to the park — including refurbishing that gazebo.
Their efforts would include setting up Saturday’s cleanup, which was a long time in the making.
Surveying the scene of the workers just an hour-and-half into the Saturday’s cleanup, Matthews said she was expecting to collet lots of trash.
“I think we’ll fill that whole dumpster,” she said. “We’re just starting to make a dent.”
The workers found various items — from the mundane to the surprising. There were, of course, the bottles and plastic sheeting. Styrofoam, too.
“It’s so old the styrofoam has turned dark brown,” Pavlov said.
But there was an unexpected surprise: Someone found a handwritten message in a bottle. The volunteers weren’t sure where it came from, but they were sure they would not throw it out.
Aside from the aesthetic value of removing the trash, the cleanup will help local wildlife. Workers found pieces of plastic and wood, which can be a hazard for the animals that call the estuary home.
“The birds will try to eat it,” Matthews said. “They think it’s food. ... It’s really a shame. Just breaks your heart.”
But the response to the cleanup has been truly heartwarming. Response to the fliers posted around town asking for cleanup volunteers was impressive, according to Pavlov.
“We are very pleased,” Pavlov said.
And perhaps with a little help from these friends of the park, the residents of Stamford will be able to enjoy a refreshed city treasure.
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