ON THE SCENE: Lake Placid Village Cleanup is in good hands

A new team seamlessly took over the Lake Placid Village Cleanup on Saturday, May 5, with many core volunteers still very much in place. Their flexible approach enabled many to attend beloved Ruth Hart’s funeral and still give their all to the cleanup.

Volunteers could propose sections to clean and then register and pick up heavy bright orange bags to fill anytime before Monday when village employees would collect any not retrieved Saturday. In addition, volunteers could take what they gathered directly to the transfer station.

These and other tweaks reflect the benefits of smooth passing of the baton with seasoned volunteers, as they have always done, suggesting ways of enhancing an already great system. For those arriving Saturday, bags, gloves, hot coffee and lots of donuts awaited them to fuel their start on an overcast day as the early morning drizzle drifted toward Vermont.

“Tricia Garrett and Andrea Grout, as well as Andrea’s daughter Ellie, had been leading the drive for many years, with Ellie using it as part of her volunteer hours and capstone project,” said Jackie Kelly, volunteer and village deputy mayor. “As Ellie graduated last year, Andrea, Tricia and the Garden Club decided it was time for someone else to take the lead. They approach the village back in January and let us know. As I knew Karlan Jessen (Adirondack Sports Council director of legacy, sustainability and operational efficiency) through the FISU Games, I reached out to her to see if she would be interested in taking this on as I knew she was very interested in sustainability.”

When they spoke, Jessen asked if she could approach the Sports Council regarding their Save Winter Campaign. Kelly readily agreed, and so did the Sports Council. Garrett and Grout worked closely with Jessen to facilitate a smooth transition.

Taking part in the annual Village Cleanup in Lake Placid on Saturday, May 4 were members of the village team: Tracy Hathaway, Mindy Goddeau, Sydnee Goddeau, Victoria Duffy and Heather Hayhurst, along with Haley and Myla. (Provided photo — Naj Wikoff)

“Andrea and Tricia were instrumental in keeping the organizational structure, the methodology, who you reach out to, the sponsorships; so, they helped Karlen immensely,” said Kelly.

“I know that volunteerism makes programs like this happen and that it’s important for people to step up,” said Jessen. “As I didn’t have any other volunteer commitments, and it dovetails nicely with the Adirondack Sports Council’s Save Winter campaign, which was initiated for 2023 with the games, and as we felt it important to keep it going and connected to the community, we agreed.”

Jessen said that the campaign was off to a great start as Northwood School students and faculty cleaned what turned out to be a seven-mile stretch from the 73/86 traffic light to the state campground past High Falls Gorge along with several neighborhoods. In all, over 20 faculty members and the majority of their 190-member student body cleaned up 35 miles of roadside and 3 miles of shoreline.

“In addition, all the people who cleaned certain neighborhoods returned,” said Jessen. “As an example, the residents of Averyville always do a great job. We have student groups and new volunteers coming today, so I think we are in good shape.”

One of Northwood’s neighborhoods was the shore of Mirror Lake. Northwood faculty member and team leader Howard Runyon said of one student, “Daven Linck went fearlessly into the nastiest, trashiest lakeshore weeds. Once, he stepped out of the kayak and waded in his sneakers to gather trash.”

Karlan Jessen and Jackie Kelly (Provided photo — Naj Wikoff)

“I thought it was pretty cool working around the lake,” said Linck, one of three teams working in the area. “I’ve been on Mirror Lake often but hadn’t been along the shore. It felt good to clean it up because there was much more there than I expected. We found lots of tennis balls, water bottles, a pillow, some buoys that went astray, and plastic bags for the most part.”

In another neighborhood, Larry and Marilyn Zygo took on the Adirondack Loj Road, as they have been doing for several years.

“We took it on because we live on Loj Road, and nobody else was coming out,” said Larry. “It needs to get done. There are a lot of cans and bottles along the way. We started because we walk the road and don’t like seeing a lot of litter. It’s not very nice; if people see it, they think they can do more. This year, we have reinforcements, so that’s nice.”

Another serious picker-upper is Joe Martens, who is volunteering for his third cleanup in as many weekends, having already taken on the AuSable River and the Adirondack Rail Trail.

“Cleanups are an old tradition that brings the community together, and what could be better on a spring Saturday morning,” said Martens. “I’m looking to see who’s cleaning up next weekend. Today, I am on Olympic Drive and Hillcrest. But I plan to keep going until I fill two bags up.”

Larry and Marilyn Zygo (Provided photo — Naj Wikoff)

Lake Placid Village Deputy Treasurer Tracy Hathaway assembled a team from the North Elba Town Hall, all dressed in bright pink and purple safety vests, making them clearly the most dazzling crew to hit the streets. They were taking on Sentinel Road from Station Street to the Corner Store.

“I think it’s kind of interesting to help clean up the village,” said Sydnee, Village Treasurer Mindy Goddeau’s assistant (daughter). “My mom talked me into it; I agreed because I thought it would be fun to spend time with everyone. It’s important to help keep the village clean because if we don’t, everything will be dirty, and no one will want to visit.”

Northwood wasn’t the only school to pitch in. Ten earth and environmental science students from Lake Placid Central and their teacher, Sam Baker, were out in force, taking on the high school campus, the teacher’s parking lot, Cummings Road, and the Shipman Youth Center — no small task.

“While donuts were the carrot, I didn’t have to twist anyone’s arm,” said Sam Baker.

After Baker said they picked up over two hundred pounds of trash, the Shipman Center lot and Cummings Road down to Wesvalley Road were the worst areas.

Art and Sue Devlin (Provided photo — Naj Wikoff)

Along Wesvalley, Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin and his wife Sue were hard at work.

“We’ve been picking up lotto tickets, many fireballs, beer cans, and a lot of McDonald’s and Stewart’s coffee cups,” said Sue. “It’s aggravating; they can’t put it in their car.”

“Everyone says we lost our sense of community, but that’s not true; look at the huge turnout,” said Art.

“We view the cleanup as a way to honor Ruth Hart because this is something she’d be all over,” said Kelly. “She was instrumental with the land use code and was passionate about protecting the character and beauty of the community, so this is a great tribute.”

Amen to that.

(Naj Wikoff lives in Keene Valley. He has been covering events for the Lake Placid News for more than 15 years.)

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