Borough to spruce up downtown in 'community collaboration'

It’s spring cleaning season, and while individual households may wash their baseboards and dust their blinds, it isn’t just private residences that benefit from a thorough seasonal cleanse — Wrangell’s public spaces need love too.

Next month, Parks and Recreation is hosting a “Community Collaboration” event, where all borough departments will work alongside residents to clean and beautify the downtown area.

The event will kick off on May 12 at the downtown pavilion at 9 a.m., though volunteers are welcome to drop in and out until it ends at 3 p.m. The pavilion will serve as a “command center,” where people can check in, log their hours, sign up for tasks and enjoy refreshments.

Tracking hours helps the parks and recreation department understand how much time and how many volunteers it takes to complete the project.

During the first borough cleanup in 2021, roughly 60 volunteers worked a combined 127 hours on Saturday and 244 hours on Friday; in 2022 the effort was smaller but more focused, with around 20 volunteers working on garden beds for 62 hours.

Workers can choose from a variety of jobs, like refreshing garden beds, washing benches and trash cans, cutting grass, weeding along the sidewalks, picking up debris and waste and “getting (the area) looking pretty for the springtime and summertime activities,” said Parks and Recreation Director Lucy Robinson.

In past years, she’s seen the community “working incredibly hard, asking questions, really caring about what they were doing and the work they were putting in. It just made me really proud of our community.”

It’s easy to criticize overgrown bushes or trash on the sidewalks, but it’s far more rewarding to take action to beautify the community, she added. “We can all work together to do it. Truly, it’s not the responsibility of any one person or any one department. It’s all of our responsibilities of how our community looks.”

The borough will provide tools, but residents are welcome to bring their own rakes, shovels, gardening gloves and other items just in case.

The event is not to be confused with the upcoming April 29 community cleanup, which starts at Evergreen Elementary at 8:30 a.m. That cleanup focuses on trash removal — volunteers will roam all over the island filling their bags.

The May 12 effort involves a wider variety of tasks, starts at the downtown pavilion and focuses on enhancing the downtown area specifically, rather than the whole island. The April 29 event has been going on annually since the 1980s; the May 12 borough-sponsored event is a more recent development.

Parks and Recreation is leading the effort, but all borough departments are helping out, particularly Public Works.

But just because there are two community cleanup days doesn’t mean residents have to pick one or the other. Both perform different yet essential roles in keeping Wrangell in peak condition. It is “so fantastic to see the people of Wrangell coming together for the common good of just sprucing up our town,” said Robinson. “For me, I love seeing action-oriented, solution-focused activity in a group setting.”

And if you can’t make either of the group cleanup times, Parks and Recreation is holding a “love our parks” challenge from April 23 to May 11. During that time, community members are invited to take pictures of themselves cleaning parks and public spaces, then either post them to the challenge’s Facebook page or send them to

For more information, contact Parks and Recreation at 907-874-2444.


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