Downtown Renew Holds First Cleanup of Long Branch
Volunteers cleaned downtown Broadway in Long Branch
Over 100 volunteers gathered in the city on Saturday to clean an area that is often neglected, downtown Long Branch.
Groups including the City Council, Urban Enterprise Zone, Long Branch High School, Second Baptist Church, Long Branch Department of Public Works and the Library Green Teen program all turned out for Downtown Renew's first cleanup.
Downtown Renew is a volunteer-run program created to revitalize downtown Long Branch by encouraging a cohesive business district that embraces a beautification program to dispel and reverse the appearance of neglect, according to volunteer Jennifer Smiga.
The volunteers met at the Broadway Bandshell on Saturday morning and broken up into groups and assigned different areas of downtown to clean up.
Areas included the backs of several stores on Broadway, the grass lot near Liberty Street and several sidewalks lining Broadway and Third Avenue.
Mayor Adam Schneider was on hand and said the cleanups are the best way for residents to get involved in their community.
"What you are telling people is that you care about your community," Mayor Schneider said. "It is the only thing that can change a town."
While other groups were picking up litter, another was soliciting businesses on Broadway and Third Avenue to see if they were aware of city ordinances that require them to keep the backs and fronts of their stores clean.
"We're giving them the benefit of the doubt," Councilwoman Joy Bastelli said.
Councilwoman Bastelli helped start Downtown Renew and has said if the cleanups are going to work, the businesses are going to have to help.
Smiga said this is the first of many programs for Downtown Renew. She said she hopes to have stencil all storm drains with a message that read "All drains lead to the ocean."
She said that much of the trash that goes down storm drains finds its way to the ocean and eventually washes up on city beaches.
Smiga said she is not sure when the next program will be held, but that it should happen "in the next few months."