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Spring cleaning: Neighborhood Green and Clean volunteers in Arbor Hill. By John Whipple

Clean Spirit

Despite the soggy weather, a handful of citizens armed with rakes and shovels took to a vacant lot on Third Street in Arbor Hill Saturday to kick off this year’s Neighborhood Green and Clean program.

The two-year-old program, funded by Arbor Hill Development Corporation, looks to enlist volunteers from within the community to beautify some of the neighborhood’s more blighted areas.

“The idea is to get people to take pride in where they live,” said Yacob Williams, the project’s coordinator. “It is especially important for people involved in illegal activities to do something to benefit the community instead of taking away from it.”

Saturday’s program took place in front of a mural, one of three painted by Williams last year in Arbor Hill. The mural—a towering, winged black angel with hands clasped in prayer—overlooks the vacant lot on the corner of North Swan and Third streets, and was commissioned by a number of community groups as part of a neighborhood beautification project last year.

Williams said he’d like to develop one project for Arbor Hill every month, and eventually open the program up to other neighborhoods as well. He’d also like to try and incorporate the arts into the program, and is looking for building owners in the neighborhood to donate wall space for future mural projects.

“Jack [Yacob] has been wonderful about getting people involved in the community and getting people to start to take some stewardship and care about what their neighborhood looks like,” said AHDC executive director Susan Wright.

Though the program lost some funding this year, down to $3,800 from $4,000, Wright said she’d like the program to continue at last year’s level by enlisting volunteers and soliciting donations.

Last year, Neighborhood Green and Clean initiatives planted 28 trees and placed flower planters on Clinton Avenue. Similar cleanup projects will be held throughout Arbor Hill over the summer.

Wright said a florist in Hudson Falls recently donated a number of flower planters that she’d like to place where Henry Johnson Boulevard, Ten Broeck Place, Lark and Swan streets intersect Clinton Avenue.

—Travis Durfee

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