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Friends of Stewart Park invites volunteers to fall cleanup

Over 30 volunteers gathered in Stewart Park on Saturday morning to participate in a seasonal outdoor cleanup organized by the Ithaca-based nonprofit Friends of Stewart Park. In line with its mission to enhance, revitalize and maintain Stewart Park and the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, Friends of Stewart Park hosted the event to freshen up the park’s new playground and pollinator garden bed before the first snowfall.

Volunteers were seen raking leaves and wood chips, picking up litter, and planting daffodil bulbs around Stewart Park's new playground.
Volunteers raked leaves and wood chips, picked up litter, and planted daffodil bulbs around Stewart Park’s new playground. (Ithaca Week/Emily Snyder)

Janelle Alvstad-Mattson, communications coordinator of Friends for Stewart Park, said the cleanup events help keep Stewart Park, which is located next to Cayuga Lake, in good condition between seasons.

“We usually do a cleanup like this, where it’s playground and garden heavy, in the fall, so that by springtime when snow starts to melt off, everything still looks good and we’ve got new bulbs coming up,” Alvstad-Mattson said.

Rick Manning, executive director of Friends of Stewart Park, said the nonprofit is responsible for engaging with the public, in addition to fundraising and planning for projects.

“Maintenance of these kinds of facilities takes some effort, and this is a really good volunteer task,” Manning said. “Everyone will come back in the spring and see their work, so it’ll be satisfying.”

Volunteer plants bulbs in garden bed.
The spring-blooming bulbs planted in the pollinator garden bed during the event were provided by City Forester Jeanne Grace. (Ithaca Week/Emily Snyder)

In August 2020, Friends of Stewart Park opened the state-of-the-art Stewart Park Playground for children of all ages and abilities to enjoy.

Currently, the organization is working with the City of Ithaca in preparation for Stewart Park’s centennial this summer. Friends of Stewart Park plans to complete a list of revitalization projects in time for the Centennial Celebration. The celebration will consist of online and in-person events throughout 2021 for Stewart Park’s hundredth year as a city-owned public park.

Julie Johnson, who also volunteers at the Ithaca City Cemetery, was one of the many locals who enjoyed helping Friends of Stewart Park maintain the lakefront park.

“I was at the cleanup last year, and really enjoyed it,” Johnson said. “It’s a big park, so it needs a lot of help.”

Volunteer rakes along the garden beds.
COVID-19 protocols were strictly followed by volunteers. (Ithaca Week/EmilySnyder)
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