Editorial: A woman, a petition and the litter problem

  • People take advantage of the Green River at the Covered Bridge in Greenfield on Wednesday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Published: 9/8/2016 3:41:09 PM

We’re not sure where Colleen Voudren-McKusick’s petition drive will lead, but we like her attitude.

The Turners Falls resident takes her two young children swimming in the river off Green River Road in the summer. But this year, so her toddlers can play safely, she spends time picking up broken glass and garbage that others less considerate leave behind at the swimming holes.

What she has found routinely also triggered neighborhood complaints about littering and illegal swimming downstream, near the Eunice Williams Covered Bridge.

Many like the casual, relaxed atmosphere of an informal riverside beach rather than formal Green River Recreation and Swimming Area further downstream off Nash’s Mill Road in Greenfield, where you need to pay admission to support the popular attraction.

This summer, Greenfield police and public works crews tried to ameliorate the situation by setting out some large trash bins and patrolling the area regularly. Signs have been erected to remind swimmers that littering is a crime, not just rude.

Police Chief Robert Haigh this weekend reported conditions have improved at the covered bridge — a consequence of his department’s efforts, no doubt. But the other smaller swimming spots that Voudren-McKusick and her children frequent can’t all be patrolled. We’d like to think that a stern word on an editorial page would make a difference, but we doubt such a message would reach all the right people.

But we like Voudren-McKusick’s approach and attitude. She’s doing more than just complain.

Fed up with the mess at her informal swimming hole, Voudren-McKusick started a petition to help address the problem. The petition, which had more than 200 signatures last week, calls for stationary trash cans to be installed at some of the popular swimming spots along the Green River; visible signs to be posted prohibiting littering, tents, fires and glass; and an increased fines for violators.

She said once the petition gets 300 to 350 signatures, she’ll start drafting a proposal to submit to the towns of Greenfield, Leyden and Colrain, as well as the state Environmental Police, and she plans to put together a list of people who would be willing to help out. She said some of her friends in the area have already volunteered to empty the trash receptacles, should they be installed.

Civic pride combined with civic action makes this citizen’s approach one worthy of admiration and emulation.

Now, if we could only teach all of the Green River swimmers to toss aside their bad habits instead of their litter ... and follow Voudren-McKusick’s example.




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