Elmwood Park

By Kumasi Knight, Community Correspondent

A group of neighborhood volunteers and Corcoran High School students pulled weeds, yanked tree branches and cleared fields at Elmwood Park on a windy Saturday morning in an effort to revive the park.

“These parks here have terrific potential,” said Patty Weisse, of the Baltimore Woods Nature Center. “With the price of gas going up, that terrible oil spill in the Gulf Coast, we just can’t keep gobbling up petroleum to live” in the suburbs.

“The city has a lot of nice green spaces within walking distances,” Weisse added.

To get the most potential out of those green spaces, Corcoran High School officials are spearheading an effort with the Parks and Recreation department to bring Corcoran student-athletes to volunteer their time at the park. Last Saturday, May 8, about 50 girls lacrosse players woke up early on this blustery but sunny morning to pitch in, said Paul Grace, a Corcoran historian who is leading the effort.

“It’s easy for the student athletes to come to school and to come to work in the park,” Grace said. It’s part of the Campus Awareness club, which helps get Corcoran students volunteering for the environment. Many Corcoran High students walk through the park, which shares a border with the school, to get to class.

One volunteer on Saturday said that he hopes his efforts will rub off on the Corcoran students who walk through the park to get to school.

“If people see you actively enjoying the park, if they see you respecting the park, picking up garbage, taking care of things, we’re hoping that message translates to the high school kids, the elementary kids, the families that may not think twice about dropping water bottles,” said Jason Allers, who later lugged a giant tree branch that had fallen in the strong wind.

Allers said the park holds great potential: A building that dates before the Civil War could host Boy Scout meetings or men’s club meetings, and families can fish in the pond, where there are native and brook trout.

One neighborhood resident, Tom Hanlon, was taking advantage of the nice day by fly fishing in the pond. He had caught four fish already, but released them all.

“I haven’t kept a fish in here since I was a kid,” Hanlon said.

In cover photo: Newhouse/Syracuse University student Brian Amaral works with Corcoran High School senior Kumasi Knight May 8 during The Stand’s May Journalism Workshop.