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Groton residents, businesses called on to help clean up litter

Groton — As Andrew Parrella walked on the sidewalk along Long Hill Road on a recent afternoon, he noticed clean areas but also small pieces of trash, from a fast-food wrapper to a receipt, littering other spots.

Parrella, an alternate member on the Groton Beautification Committee, is paying extra attention to the town's landscape that the committee is working to improve and hopes residents and business owners will pitch in this month to help clean up the streets in their neighborhoods as part of the committee's townwide cleanup effort.

The Beautification Committee has started an initiative called Clean Up Your Act to get people to voluntarily pick up trash in their neighborhoods between 9 a.m. and noon over the next three Saturdays this month.

"We need to get the citizens to take their streets back," Parrella said. "My idea is let's make Groton the most beautiful community in Connecticut."

Residents and business owners are asked to go out with their own garbage bags and gloves and pick up trash — including bottles, cans and miniature alcohol bottles, popularly known as nips — on streets and in parking areas, as well as around houses and businesses. Participants then would dispose of the items in their own trash receptacles, according to the committee. People are asked to pay attention to safety issues as they work. 

"The Beautification Committee will continue its part, but we can't do it alone," a flyer from the committee states. "Let's all pitch in and clean up Groton! Beautification is a community effort!"

"This is a great initiative by the volunteers of the Groton Beautification Committee to partner with residents of Groton in a targeted cleanup effort," said Tabitha Harkin, land use planner for the Town of Groton and staff to the committee. "The goal is to stimulate volunteerism in the community to help enhance the appearance of Groton."

The committee, formed in 2018, has initiated projects to slowly change Groton's landscape, including cleaning up the area at the intersection of Poquonnock Road and Long Hill Road near the Avery Memorial, improving the town's "gateways" and sprucing up Sutton Park off of Fort Hill Road/Route 1, around Town Hall at 45 Fort Hill Road and its annex at 134 Groton Long Point Road, Parrella said.

The Beautification Committee is slated to get funding from the revenue provided to the town from a surcharge on miniature alcohol bottles. The Town Council at its Tuesday Committee of the Whole meeting took a vote to allocate half of the town's first-year funds from the sale of nips to the Beautification Committee and the other half to Public Works/Solid Waste. Public Works discussed a couple options, including adding special netting on some heavily trafficked roads to capture trash that floats, as well as potentially adding solar-powered trash compactors to downtown Mystic, Town Manager John Burt said. The Beautification Committee will discuss how to use its share of the funds.

Burt added that a lot of the trash left outside ends up in the town's roughly 4,000 sewer drains, which the town tries to clean each year. He noted that the Parks and Recreation Department regularly cleans up the town's parks. The town also has an adopt-a-highway program in which Public Works will provide bags, safety vests and other needed items to do right-of-way trash pickups. 

While the committee and town help keep the community clean, Parrella said cleaning up litter is really everybody's responsibility and a communitywide effort.

"It's really going back to neighborhoods helping neighborhoods and businesses helping businesses because we want to keep businesses here and we want to live here," he said. "We are the Submarine Capital of the World. We should be so proud to live here."

k.drelich@theday.com

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