The beautification project plans to make it an “iconic” site

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GREENWICH – A waterfall near Greenwich High School, which currently houses a pizza box and other debris, needs to be restored, along with an ecosystem of native plants, through public-private partnerships and community support .

The beautification effort is to secure charitable contributions and avoid having the cleanup of school property funded by the city.

“I’ve never been involved in a public project in my volunteer life that had 100% support from everyone but this one. There’s always a bit of opposition,” said member Joe Kelly. of the school board and co-chair of the project: “There are none here. Everyone is so in favor of it.”

The The idea for the cleanup came about after he and Greenwich Sustainability Committee member Ashley Cole strolled by the waterfall located near Hillside Road and West Putnam Avenue. Kelly said it looked like an abandoned plot of land, but after realizing Greenwich Public Schools owned the property, he and Cole came up with a new plan.

He said he discussed it with city and school officials in the summer of 2021 and received positive feedback. No city agency has voted on the project because it is in the cleanup phase. When it’s time to landscape and disturb the ground, approvals will be needed, Kelly said.

Kelly and Cole formed a committee and partnered with private organizations for the project.

Cole said she knows of the generosity of Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses through past community projects and has made the business her first call. The nursery quickly agreed to donate plants and landscaping work.

“I called them, and they said, ‘You bet; were in.’ What more could you ask for? They have the talent; they have amazing plants and trees, and it’s right in their wheelhouse,” Cole said. “It only took one call, and they were on it.”

The Greenwich Tree Conservancy provides trees to the project. The number of trees on the campus of Greenwich High School has declined as new facilities have been built, most recently an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant parking lot for Cardinal Stadium.

“Trees don’t just let you know about this beautiful site – our only high school here. They also protect the earth by absorbing gallons and gallons of water; each tree absorbs gallons of water,” Cole said.

A cleaning carried out by green and clean greenwich on Saturday, June 18, will prepare the ground for the new factories. Community members can volunteer to pull weeds and pick up litter at the site.

“The goal is not just to clean it up so that one day it grows back and becomes someone’s problem in the future, but to put in place a plan that not only cleans it up and brings it to a point where it’s just a beautiful iconic place – but we want a plan that’s going to sustain it,” Kelly said.

The Board of Education is currently working with Parks and Recreation to maintain the grounds, but said a long-term plan and funding would help keep the waterfall in better condition.

Groups such as the Boy Scouts have cleaned up the waterfall as in previous service projects, but the site requires regular maintenance, Cole said.

“The maintenance of a site like this has to be very proactive. So what we’re trying to do with the waterfall project is raise enough money to protect, preserve and maintain this site in perpetuity. The project partners will soon be soliciting donations from a non-profit organization, so the public can contribute to the effort.

“It’s such an iconic area that people go there quite often,” Kelly said. “I don’t think people might have a problem contributing to this because everyone will share or benefit from being there.”

He thinks the high traffic area will bring in more dollars. If donations arrive, planting is planned for the fall, he said.

The project launched an Instagram page @waterfallprojectgreenwich late last month, and an email account is dedicated to the effort greenwichwaterfallproject@gmail.com. Kelly also gives regular updates on the project at school board meetings.

annelise.hanshaw@hearstmediact.com


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