It turned out to be a 100-foot long contraption used to soak up toxic industrial spills in factories. The discovery was equal parts disturbing and satisfying.
“What keeps me going?” James said. “I live in Meriden. It’s my hometown. I actually grew up on Hanover Pond. My brothers and I used to raft the pond. We fished it. My dad used to swim in it back in the day. I’ve used it my whole life. I’m not willing to give up on it.”
James is not alone. About 40 people met at the QRWA’s headquarters on Oregon Road Saturday morning for a spring cleanup event. In addition to Hanover Pond, the group worked to spruce up and remove trash from Meriden’s Harbor and Sodom brooks as well as parts of the Quinnipiac River in Meriden, Cheshire and Southington.
The Quinnipiac River Watershed Association’s mission is to, “restore the river and its watershed for the health and enjoyment of the citizens and communities along its reach, and to educate students, families, individuals, businesses and governments to be informed stewards of the river.”
The QRWA supplied trash bags, gloves, boots and maps on Saturday, while volunteers of all ages donated a little elbow grease.
Ron Hart, assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 43 in Meriden, cleaned Sodom Brook near Platt High School along with four of his scouts.
“Community service is a big part of scouting,” he said as he pulled on waders. “I’m going to get wet. I get to walk in the brook. We’re hoping to fill a lot of trash bags.”
Troop member and Lyman Hall freshman Blake Kunst has been participating in the cleanup event for three years. He recalled the time he helped haul a rusty bicycle out of the woods along Meriden’s Quinnipiac River Gorge Trail.
“We keep it clean for the animals and the people who use the trail and river,” he said.
Meanwhile, Joe Neumon, of Meriden, used a leaf blower to clear an area of leaves and debris behind the QRWA headquarters to create a new kayak launch.
“You look over the year at all the junk that piles up,” he said. “You’d be surprised.”
Neumon and Virginia Chirsky, both members of the association, were prepping the site for some of the many educational programs the QRWA will offer this spring.
Chirsky removed invasive plants near the water’s edge. A group of Maloney students will use the area to grow native plants in early May.
Students from Platt and Lyman Hall will also participate in educational river activities such as water testing and kayaking.
“We all have a passion for wanting to make our community and the environment last,” she said.
“Hanover Pond seems to be a little forgotten. We want to preserve the area and we want people to connect to the river so there’s a future. Wildlife and water quality matter to us. The river is a natural resource.”
Mike Mordarski, a Southington native and Meriden resident, was also part of Saturday’s cleanup crew. He has seen firsthand the benefits of such an endeavor.
“I grew up in Plantsville and we had the Quinnipiac River behind our house,” he said. “I remember different colored water and dead fish coming down the river in the 60s. Now there are trout. There is hope.”
James, 64, was a whirling dervish Saturday morning as he orchestrated the cleanup effort. His energy was contagious.
“These folks do care about the environment,” he said. “They want to do something other than just take. They realize that if you want an enjoyable outdoors it doesn’t come automatically.”