How to clean a river and keep it that way ...

American Household News

Along the banks of the once-polluted Malden River in Massachusetts, an effort that began more than a decade ago continues thanks to community support and collaboration

MEDFORD, Massachusetts — It was an otherwise normal April day, albeit during the early phase of these very abnormal times, for workers and residents at the River’s Edge office complex and residential community.

Long ago it was a dumping ground and industrial wasteland. Today a pristine stretch of the Malden River and well-maintained riverbank fronts the development. And a sprawling 10-are park — created first before a single foundation was poured or a single steel frame was erected for River’s Edge— has become a jewel of the site and a treasured community resource.

Pictured above: The Park at River's Edge - Medford, MA

Developers Preotle, Lane & Associates took a major risk by investing nearly $5 million in the massive clean-up and creation of the park. By 2006 they had removed 1,200 tons of metal and debris, 176 tons of rubber and 191 tons of tires. In a very different mid-20th Century era, tires and other garbage would be floated on barges from the river out to Boston Harbor, where they would be set afire and burn for days as part of a disposal process we could never imagine happening today.

Now more than a decade after John Preotle and Matt Preotle completed the mixed-use project — it includes several office buildings, premium apartment living by Criterion Partners, a vibrant neighborhood grocery called FreeRange Market and a restaurant-music venue called The Porch — River’s Edge and its magnificent park has become a treasured landmark in the Medford-Malden-Everett area.

But on that one April day, something was out of place. A River’s Edge team member noticed several large yellow trash bags in the bushes along the river banks. The next morning he and a colleague found several more. And then another. And more still near the facility dumpsters.

For a period of time there was concern somebody might be illegally dumping — a particular affront to a site which had recovered from a disgraceful period of environmental disinterest and neglect.

But when another member of the staff noticed “Malden DPW” lettering on the bags, the pieces started coming together. It wasn’t illegal dumping at all. In fact it was quite the opposite. The fiercely dedicated, community-based Friends of the Malden River group had been performing a comprehensive riverbank clean-up project. The “discarded” bags were simply being staged for pick-up and disposal by the Malden DPW.

The FOMR and other efforts are supported by Massachusetts Environmental Trust grant funds and assistance from Preotle, Lane & Associates, the National Park Service, Gentle Giant Rowing Club and others. There is also a “trash boom” that restricts various flotsam and other debris from interfering with municipal storm-water infrastructure. It was donated by the Clean River Project of Merrimack Valley.

Pictured above: Trash boom in the Malden River - from Friends of the Malden River

The April clean-up was indicative of the commitment Friends of the Malden River and its many volunteers have consistently made to protecting, maintaining, promoting and celebrating this natural resource.

The FOMR have sponsored free canoeing cruises along the river, conducted “Exploring the Malden River” community days and have become a strong voice of advocacy for public access to the river as a vital natural resource and community asset.

Excerpted and adapted with permission -

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