Hundreds spruce up Nashua Downtown
NASHUA- Green buds blossoming on gray trees in southern New Hampshire were the first signs of spring on Saturday morning, as more than 125 volunteers gathered on the steps of City Hall to assist in a downtown beautification effort to help Nashua bloom as well.
The second annual Nashua Pride Downtown Park Clean Up Day offered community service organizations and those who caught the cleaning bug an opportunity to remove debris and other trash that accumulates with snow and ice.
“This is probably double of the size that we had last year,” said Paul Shea, executive director of Great American Downtown and the lead organizer of the annual event.
He said the day was inspired by similar event in Rochester.
“The general idea is to clean up the streets. Over the course of the New England winters, we get a buildup of detritus, trash (and) brush that’s fallen, and it’s good to get out and do a big spring cleaning to help assist the Parks & Recreation Department, who is helping out with this event today,” Shea said. “It’s also a good opportunity for folks to connect and express some pride as a group in the community of downtown Nashua.”
For two Nashua teens, the cleanup efforts coincided with their own project by adding a little artwork at the city’s library property.
“I encourage people to spend some time and explore Nashua downtown, because a lot of time, they find some new things that they might have not known was there,” said Brandon Lee, a 17-year-old honor student at Nashua High School North. He and his friend, fellow 17-year-old Nick Jones, have been working on a project to liven up the steps from the Jackson Falls Dam up to the Nashua Public Library concourse with some inspirational quote artwork.
They spray-painted famous quotations from literary figures like Maya Angelou and George Bernard Shaw, as well as humanitarians like Mahatma Gandhi.
“We wanted to incorporate all ages into this project,” Jones said.
“Brandon and I are both in an organization at our school, National Honor Society, and this is for our independent service project,” he said. “It started out as a project for school, but we’ve enjoyed doing it so much that it’s fun for us – it’s more of a hobby for us.”
Most of the work was done along the Nashua Heritage Rail Trail, which was covered in debris and garbage after a long few winter months. Volunteer groups ranging from Nashua’s Police Athletic League to Hollis Brookline students and Rivier University lined up along the path, which snakes through the Tree Streets, to collect and dispose of large branches and rake leaves.
“There’s plenty of volunteer activities to do, but I really enjoy helping out and cleaning out. And I like raking,” said Nick Vallie, a resident involved in the Nashua Police Department Explorers program. “It’s relaxing, so I thought I’d come out and help today.”
Shea said the rail trail is a huge stretch in the downtown, and any assistance from volunteers really helps the city in cleanup efforts.
Mayor Jim Donchess said the rail trail is an asset to the Tree Streets neighborhood and the downtown.
“In the next year or so, we want to improve (the trail) by providing better lighting so people can use it at night,” he said to the crowd of volunteers a few minutes before 10 a.m. “Your efforts to clean up are really, really important, and people really appreciate it.”
The trail, which runs for about 1.2 miles, is a concrete path built along an old rail bed and is used daily by hundreds in the region for travel and recreation. Nashua has worked on connecting the trail with Mine Falls Park.
“This is my home, and I want to clean up my home that’s the city,” said Kimberly Kleiner, who works in the mayor’s office. A handful of the mayor’s staff was out on the rail trail to pitch in during the cleanup day.
“I think this is a great showing of how much Nashua pulls together and takes care of our city,” she said.