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April 16, 2014

Residents encouraged to help ‘make a difference’ at park

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Volunteers gathered in Rochester Municipal Park two years ago to spread mulch for Make A Difference Day.

ROCHESTER — Volunteers of all ages can do their part to help make sure the city they live in stays beautiful during the 2014 Rochester Make A Difference Day.

This year’s project, organized by the Rochester City Beautiful Commission, is “Mulch-a-Palooza.” Volunteers over the age of 15 are needed to help spread mulch, pull weeds and paint the benches in Rochester Municipal Park 10 a.m.-1 p.m. May 3.

“There is such a connection with the residents in this town and their park, and this is going to freshen it up,” Deputy City Manager Nik Banda said.

Three city employees maintain all the parks in Rochester, which Banda said makes it hard for them to get to the detail work, like mulching around the trees and gardens at the parks.

“With a limited staff, it’s hard to do the extra things — the detail stuff,” he said. “The last thing on their list to-do is the nice things, the touch-up things, like put mulch around trees — that gets done after all the grass is done and all the maintenance is done. It gets to be mid-summer and the guys are just trying to keep up with the grass, so for us to get a fresh start to the spring and let people help out (would be great).”

Volunteers, who are asked to dress for garden work and bring their work gloves, can check in at 10 a.m. at the Kiwanis Pavilion — which is over the bridge, past the pond, facing Rochester City Hall, 400 Sixth St.

“Basically, the DPW staff follows ahead of us and drops off the mulch and the group spreads until we’ve covered mulching all the trees and gardens in the park,” City Beautiful Committee Chair Lynn Marie Oates said. “It’s a big task, so it’s something that we hope a lot of people will show up for to make it a big community project.”

The city first organized the event two years ago and had great success.

“Two years ago, we had a blast. We had probably 25 people, and we got it done and it was excellent,” Banda said.

But last year, no one showed up to help.

“Last year, we had to cancel it because we didn’t have any volunteers. I don’t know what the difference was, but we are certainly hoping that, especially if we can get the word out, that we’ll have people to RSVP to come help,” Oates explained.

“It’s a pay-it-back thing,” Banda added. “If you’re going to use the park and you want it to look fresh, come give us some help.”

Those interested in volunteering are asked to email Oates at cbc@rochestermi.org with their name and the number of volunteers.

“We want to get people involved in making their city look beautiful. We’re hoping that there are more things we’ll have volunteers for in the future, as the CBC does more projects, and this is a good way for people to come out and get involved in an easy task and see if it’s something they’re interested in continuing to assist with,” Oates said.

For questions, call Oates at (248) 652-2765.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.