Carpenter-Ridgeway cleans up neighborhood streets and park

Carpenter-Ridgeway knows how to throw an Earth Day party.

The neighborhood continued their Earth Day tradition on April 22 this year by working together to clean up the neighborhood and to finish its Oak Restoration Project, which began in early March.

But what makes the Earth Day cleanup special is not just the new trees planted or the garbage collected, it is the way neighbors come together and little by little, to make their neighborhood a better place to live.

Take for example two couples who have recently moved to the neighborhood in the last few years.

Aaron and Gina Nolan and their golden retriever Rosie were one of several cleaning crews who picked up trash in the park and the streets around the neighborhood. They found a wide variety of trash including an assorted selection of beer cans in differing states of decomposition along a walking path inside Carpenter-Ridgeway Park.

The Nolans are veterans of the neighborhood clean ups. Last year on Earth day they took a canoe out into Starkweather Creek and helped pulled trash out of the water.

“There was all kinds of trash in the water, including a full-size tire,” Aaron Nolan said.

Another family, Craig Fandel, an arborist, and his wife Sharon Fandel, a wildlife biologist, helped spearhead the cleanup.

“It’s extremely important (for neighbors to maintain the green space) it makes people feel tied to the earth,” Sharon Fandel said. “It gives them a sense of ownership and pride over the park.”

Craig Fandel demonstrated the proper technique on preparing the oak trees and placing them into the ground. This was no easy task since some of the oak trees weighed almost 500 pounds.

Craig said they moved to the neighborhood about two and a half years ago and were pleasantly surprised by what they found in the neighborhood.

“We lived on the other side (of Madison) we had a little less green space over there and it’s a real treat coming over here,” Fandel said.

Sharon Fandel helped other neighbors plant a wide variety of plants around the park and walking paths. The neighbors plan on adding a few more plants again in June to finish up the project.

Another example of the neighborhoods commitment to their green space came as the Nolan’s ran into one of their neighbors walking his dog along the path. He asked them for a trash bag and headed down a different trail looking for more garbage.

Neighborhood Association President Randy Glysch said the neighbors started the day off by planting three trees on Gannon and Burke Avenue at 8 a.m. Then they then moved on to several trash walks to clean up the park and its walking trails, along with the streets inside the neighborhood.

The city helped out the neighborhood by helping move in the trees using trucks and a tractor, according to Glysch.

“The big event was the 23 new oaks trees and seven new dogwood shrubs being planted in the park.” Glysch said. “This project was a collaborating between our neighborhood and the City of Madison Parks and Planning Department, MG&E, and McKay Nursery.”

He added the neighborhood received a City Planning Grant and got additional funds from People for Parks to cover the plantings cost of $4,500. The money paid for the trees, a new sign explaining the Oak Restoration Project and other plants planted around the park.

The only snag the neighbors ran into was the holes they had dug previously for the oak trees were too large. Residents Al Majkrzak and Don Knudtson were two of the neighbors helping to refill the holes.

Knudtson, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1956, said he was happy to help out and Carpenter-Ridgeway is one of the better working neighborhoods in the city. Majkrzak said the neighborhood was full of friendly people and they always have good completion.

Glysch said around 30 to 35 people came out to the clean up, including neighbors and volunteers from Madison College.

However, even with everything the neighborhood accomplished this Earth Day they will be out again in force next year. Glysch said they usually start planning for the next year’s Earth Day events in the fall at the neighborhood board meetings.

Carpenter-Ridgeway never misses a chance to continue to try and keep their little slice of Madison clean and green for everyone to enjoy.