Returning to the River

By Elle O’Casey

For many decades, many American cities and towns literally turned their backs on the rivers flowing through their communities. Riversides became dumping grounds and places of blight and industrial neglect. Yet, in more recent years, communities have begun to come together to restore their waterways. Together, community members are returning to their rivers, showcasing these beautiful public waterways by repositioning buildings, bike paths, storefronts, and restaurants to face the water. Restoring these rivers allows communities to reap not only environmental rewards, but also economic and social benefits that strengthen community cohesion and sustainability.

Woodstock’s East End is one such example of a community turning what was once a dumping ground into a vibrant community space for local business and recreation. Recognizing one of Woodstock’s most valuable assets, the Ottauquechee River, Sustainable Woodstock’s East End Action Group has been working steadily over the last six years on the complex aspects of renewal along the East End portion of the river located off Maxham Meadow Way.

EastEnd 2016-2The East End Action Group has two primary goals: environmental restoration and economic revitalization for the East End. These goals are being realized in a number of ways, including the relocation of the village snow dump to a new location away from the Ottauquechee River so that run-off or pollution no longer seeps into the watershed and the creation of a community riverfront park on the village-owned land.

The project has been endorsed by eight Woodstock civic organizations, and the Village Trustees have officially designated the land as a park. This project will measurably increase water quality and rehabilitate a badly deteriorated parcel of prime riverside land, offering public recreation for town residents and visitors alike.

Progress to date on the park includes a rain garden and a riparian buffer that is beginning to take hold along the riverbank. Dedicated volunteers have mowed the open lawn area, picked up and disposed of trash, and worked to control invasive plants.

EastEnd 2016-1As that work continues, Sustainable Woodstock has convened meetings with East End property owners and community stakeholders, who are now ready for the next step. The economic impact of moving the snow dump and creating a community park is becoming tangible. Cleanup and rehabilitation of adjacent properties is underway, and the possibilities are exciting.

This month, Sustainable Woodstock invites you to take advantage of the warmer weather and stop by Woodstock’s East End Riverfront Park May 21st from 9:00-11:00am to participate in “Clean Up the Park Day.” Many volunteers are needed… it’s a community park that needs community care!

When and where is this taking place?
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – rain or shine

9:00 to 11:00am @ the East End park “down by the river” on Maxham Meadow Way, Woodstock

How can you help?
There are plenty of tasks large and small for everyone to pitch in… choose your favorite!

  • Weeding
  • Pruning trees and shrubs
  • Mulching
  • Picking up trash and stones
  • Raking gravel from the snow dump pile
  • Moving last year’s knotweed pile
  • Pulling new knotweed
  • Removing debris from wooded area
  • Raking the berm

What else will be happening?

  • Donuts and coffee!
  • Volunteers to tell you more about the park
  • Plans for the next phase of the park
  • Opportunities to contribute your ideas
  • Music and fun

What should you bring?

  • Gloves
  • Whichever tools you plan to use:
    • hand pruners/shears
    • garden rake
    • yard rake
    • shovel
    • weed whacker

    Label your tools, please.

Where can you get more information?
Contact Sally Miller at Sustainable Woodstock (457-2911) or Derek DeMas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *