By Ginger DeShaney
More than 50 volunteers descended upon East 1st Street Saturday to pick up trash and beautify the area.
“It’s people coming together with pride for the neighborhood,” said former Mayor Ray Flynn, who along with his wife, Cathy, stopped by Eversource Park at 500 East 1st St. for the event.
In a collaboration of the Friends of NoB (North of Broadway), the Friends of the Boston Harborwalk, and Eversource, the area between Summer Street and West 1st was cleaned up during the Harborwalk Park Cleanup, done in conjunction with Earth Day.
Ray and Cathy are no strangers to working with neighborhood residents. “I’m so proud of these neighbors,” Ray said. “All these neighbors, they are so committed to this community. It’s a symbol of pride.”
Cathy added, ”It’s wonderful.”
In the 1980s, Mayor Flynn got the Harborwalk as we know it today started, said Mike Manning, chair of the Friends of the Boston Harborwalk. “He was instrumental in the Harborwalk.”
Ray’s goal for the Harborwalk was to connect people and neighborhoods. “The Harborwalk connects to many neighborhoods,” he said. “It’s one city. We’re all one city.
“For people who live in cities, this is a place to look at as an example of pride,” Ray continued.
Brian Graves, Brendan Albert, Jim Costello, Kate Gutierrez, and Maria Melone, all residents along East 1st St. and members of the Friends of NoB, saw that the neighborhood could really use a cleanup. Kate and Maria got the word out about the project via email and connecting with the neighbors. “Who would say no to an Earth Day cleanup project?” Brian said. “What a great project to bring people together.
“It’s a testament to the neighborhood caring about the community,” Brian added. “We’re contributing to the quality of the neighborhood we live in.”
The Friends of the Boston Harborwalk provided the tools, including trash pickers, bags, and gloves.
The volunteers collected about 40 bags of trash and recyclables, which the City of Boston hauled away.
Local elected officials attended the event to support the effort, including City Councilor Ed Flynn, State Representative David Biele, State Senator Nick Collins, and City Councilor At-Large candidate Erin Murphy. Mayor Kim Janey was scheduled to attend but couldn’t make it.
In addition, there were three representatives from the Friends of the Boston Harborwalk; five representatives from Eversource, including Erin Engstrom, Director, Government Affairs, and Mark Rooney, Account Executive; and two representatives from the Pine Street Inn.
Condon teacher Cynthia Nieves, who lives on East 1st, was one of the volunteers. She found out about the cleanup day from her neighbors. “There was a desperate need for a cleanup,” she said.
Cynthia came across a lot of cans, bottles, cigarette butts, and masks in her trash pickup stint. “I saw a lot of cigarette butts. We need to find a way to encourage people to see them as trash” and not something to throw on the ground, she said.
Cynthia said the neighbors care about their neighborhood and want to take care of it. “We want our neighborhood to look nice,” she said.
Cynthia has two kids who play at the park all the time: “That’s another reason why it’s important to clean it up.”
Eversource Park currently dead ends, but it will soon be connected to the Harborwalk.
Brian and his crew were on K Street, which was the worst area. They found several hypodermic needles, which were handled with care, and objects such as bookcases, chairs, and steel pipes. There were also nuisance items such as cigarette butts and dog waste.
Erin Burke and her dog Lucy were among the helpers. She heard about the cleanup from an email. She said she’d noticed that people just weren’t picking up after themselves: “I definitely wanted to help.”
She found a lot of broken glass, bottle caps, and those ever-present cigarette butts.
Erin said projects like this are very important. “If you take pride in where you live, you’ll want to take care of it,” she said, noting it’s also a way for neighbors to get to know each other.
“Southie is one of the smallest neighborhoods, in my opinion, but it’s nice to have a community within the community to do good things and take care of the neighborhood.”