COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - A Three Rivers Fire Department truck washes down Main Street in downtown Three Rivers during Saturday morning’s Community Cleanup Day.COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Three Rivers Fire Department firefighter Travis McGahan washes down the sidewalks on Main Street during Saturday morning’s Community Cleanup Day downtown.COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Four-year-old Colton Verwey helps pull out a weed at the Mural Mall during Saturday morning’s Community Cleanup Day.COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Three Rivers Woman’s Club members Debra Abel (left) and Joan Fisher (right) pulls weeds in the butterfly pollinator garden at the Mural Mall during Saturday morning’s Community Cleanup Day.

Cleaning up downtown

Annual Community Cleanup Day helps beautify downtown for spring

THREE RIVERS — An annual spring community service tradition returned to downtown Three Rivers Saturday.

Beginning early Saturday morning and going until the early afternoon, more than 30 volunteers from the community, Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority and Twin County Probation Center took part in the annual Community Cleanup Day, a tradition that goes back more than 20 years.

Volunteers helped with pulling weeds, picking up trash, spreading mulch, cutting overgrowth and more in various areas around the downtown area, including Main Street, the east parking lot, East Alley, the Mural Mall and the mall’s Pollinator Garden.

Cleanup Day project lead and DDA board member Jason Ballew said it felt “great” to once again hold the cleanup day downtown and get people together to help out.

“It’s a wonderful project for downtown to get everyone on board and do a little spring cleanup and get ready for the summer,” Ballew said.

The day began with firefighters from the Three Rivers Fire Department washing down the road and sidewalks to clear them of any debris beforehand. Using both a fire truck and a pickup truck both with hoses attached, they cleared various debris that building owners and shop owners swept to the sidewalk the previous night, washing them off of the sidewalk and curbs and into the drains to clean up the road.

Ballew said the fire department helping out with the cleanup is a “big part” of the day.

“They are the washdown. We don't have the machinery they do, so it's a great service they provide to kick things off and start with a clean slate,” Ballew said.

Outgoing DDA Executive Director Tricia Meyer said the partnership with the fire department has been a “great collaborative effort, and said this year’s washdown differs a bit from years’ past.

“This year, I'm very appreciative of the new approach by the new fire chief Paul Schoon, they're doing the sidewalk and also the curb,” Meyer said. “It's been a combination of approaches over the last couple years. From what I recall, I don't think they ever got on the sidewalk as much as they are. They're taking from the sidewalk, pushing out, and then the truck with the heavier hose is coming through. It’ll be our best washdown yet.”

Meyer said the part she was excited about was working on controlling weeds in the downtown area, spraying them with a mixture of vinegar, water, salt and dish soap, something downtown officials collaboratively decided to do several years ago as an alternative to chemical sprays.

However, the biggest area where work was done was the Mural Mall, where Meyer said the first phase of the downtown’s vibrancy grant project is about to get underway. The DDA received a $20,000 vibrancy grant from the state last year to bring more outdoor seating, market lights, activities such as an outdoor ping pong table and art upgrades to the Mural Mall area. To prepare, volunteers cut back a lot of the overgrown grasses in the Mural Mall area and some perennials during the day’s activities.

The biggest aspect of the vibrancy grant project is the update to the murals at the Mural Mall, which Meyer said it was time for them to do.

“The current murals have served their purpose. It wasn't in the cards for it to be updated, so we're just going to give it a new approach,” Meyer said. “The new ones are unique, they're authentic, they're personal. It'll be a very cool, unique thing.”

The new murals planned for the Mural Mall, Meyer said, are what is dubbed “Postcard Alley.” The idea is to take vintage postcards of Three Rivers from the past and create giant renderings of them, putting them on material and hanging them up in the alley.

Meyer said the new murals, as well as everything else going into the Mural Mall, will hopefully help create the “same kind of vibe” in the space as East Alley.

“There, they walk, they look at the art, they stop, take photos, and we want that same feel here,” Meyer said. “We want to have a bit of a storytelling approach.”

Overall, Ballew said Saturday’s Community Cleanup Day is important to try to keep downtown looking as clean as possible for the future.

“It keeps our downtown looking clean, fresh, and exciting and a place where people want to come and spend time,” Ballew said.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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