On the surface, Saturday’s 3rd Annual Pocasset River Clean-up was a super success.
“We collected over 20-cubic yard of junk in four hours,” said Robert J. “Bob” Nero, chairman of the award-winning Pawtuxet River Authority. “We feel as though we are making progress, but we need a bit more stewardship from the community.”
Nero doesn’t mean the Town of Johnston in particular, he’d simply like to have an army of volunteers participate in the 2018 Pocasset River Clean-up.
People like Richard J. DelFino III, the District 1 Johnston Town Councilman who initiated the annual clean-up and has great concern and caring for the environment and improvements to the neighborhoods, agrees with Nero.
So does Mayor Joseph Polisena, who was both amazed and angry with the amount debris – that ranged from a canoe to recycling bins to broken pieces of concrete and an actual dumpster – that prevent the Pocasset River from flowing freely and being the beautiful natural resource it once was many years ago.
“This is disgusting,” Polisena said during a pre-clean-up tour with DelFino III and Michael Maddalena, a member of the PRA’s Board of Directors. “Incredible … this is absolutely shameful.”
Just moments into the walk around that took place Saturday at the one-time Pocasset Little League Field off Plainfield Street, Polisena said, “Look at this; a fire helmet. Maybe we should hold a yard sale with all the softballs … parts of lawnmowers …”
Saturday’s annual Pocasset River Clean-up was performed by volunteers from Citizens Bank, the PRA and Town of Johnston.
Towards the session’s end, Nero and company had filled the back end of a PRA truck with different size car and truck tires and at one point almost pulled a dumpster from the river until the wench on the truck snapped.
All of which prompted Nero’s statement that volunteers were surprised by the amount of debris and trash still haunting the river.
“No wonder this river can’t flow freely,” Polisena said. “What a mess; I can’t believe the number of highway construction barrels we’ve already seen.”
As DelFino III pointed out: “I can’t believe all the household items volunteers pulled out of the river today. Think about this: all the junk filled a dumpster and back end of a pick-up truck and there’s still much more debris making it impossible for the river to flow in its natural route.”
So, while he thanked every volunteer who helped make the 3rd Annual Pocasset River Clean-up a success, DelFino III said, “We continue to improve the quality of the river and surrounding areas as we make our way downstream. I look forward to continue working with the PRA to build upon this progress.”
To which Nero added: “The Pocasset is the most visible river in town and the PRA, in collaboration with the Town of Johnston, is committed to free it of refuse once and for all.”
That vision, which is shared by Polisena, DelFino III, Maddalena and the volunteers who worked tirelessly Saturday, is to restore it to a natural resource and a recreational opportunity for all Johnstonians. Nero thanked Polisena and DelFino III for their keen interest in cleaning up the Pocasset River, a 12.4-mile waterway that has five dams and eventually flows into the Pawtuxet River, and announced “we are discussing a larger scale, town-wide clean-up effort for next year.”