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Dozens of Toledo residents took advantage of the mild weather yesterday to pick up trash from city streets, parks, vacant lots, and alleys.
The spirit of the massive spring cleanup was particularly evident in one North Toledo neighborhood, where a half-dozen city officials put on their work gloves and helped 40 volunteers fill garbage bags with rubbish and debris from long-abandoned Bronson Park.
The park, between Central and Bronson avenues and C and D streets, had shown few signs of what it was like up until the 1970s, except for an old patch of concrete where a basketball court once was.
But after sprucing up the site for some five hours, participants were energized by the possibility of what it could become again for a disadvantaged neighborhood in which dozens of children have no such facility within walking distance of their homes.
“It creates pride and gives people a sense of belonging,” a perspiring Councilman Michael Ashford said while taking a break from some raking. He said the long-forgotten park is in his district and even he didn't know it existed.
He said he will ask Mayor Jack Ford to include money in next year's budget for a new basketball court, benches, and playground equipment.
Jay Black, Jr., the mayor's chief operating officer, who also was among those at the work site, said he was impressed by the effort. “The neighbors have spoken. They would like to have it as a park again,” he said.
Neighborhood Block Watch leader T. Jean Overton said that any plans to rejuvenate the park would be a “godsend” to residents. “The bottom line is we're concerned about our young people,” she said.
She noted the participation of city officials. “To me, it's an excellent sign that City Hall is moving out of the four walls and into the community,” she said.
The cleanup was one of several across the city that focused on litter pickup and yard waste disposal. Refuse trucks at 13 sites collected tons of trash, ranging from broken bottles to discarded television sets to worn-out furniture and tires.