Occoquan Hosting Riverfront Clean Up Behind Mill House Museum
– September 20, 2013 6:22 pm
OCCOQUAN, Va. – On Saturday, September 21, the Town of Occoquan will be holding its first Riverfront Rehabilitation Projects Day, timed to coincide with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day. The centerpiece of the effort will feature residents, businesses, and nonprofits collaborating to improve the condition of the town’s waterfront. The event falls under the rubric of a larger community engagement effort recommended in the Strategic Plan recently adopted by the Town Council.
“One of the items suggested by our Strategic Planning Committee was that Occoquan develop a community engagement program to deepen the connections between residents and businesses, and foster a sense of ownership in town initiatives,” said Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta. “While the Town Council continues to work through the implementation details of the strategic plan, we felt there was no need to delay in proceeding with a variety of planned special events that readily fall within the scope of the community engagement recommendation.”
Activity on the 21st will feature collaboration among a variety of groups. The 501(c)(3) Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition (PWTSC) will be hosting a clean-up of the riverfront behind the Occoquan Historical Society’s Mill House Museum, removing debris and trash, improving the path to the shoreline, and segregating mill ruins that the town plans to officially designate as an active archaeological site. Patriot Scuba, located at 305 Mill Street, will be sending scuba divers into the water to clean-up the riverfront below and along the waterline. In conjunction with that effort, shop staff will provide family-friendly “Project Aware” information about underwater conservation. Vulcan Materials will also be participating by having its staff remove debris from their dock complex on the Fairfax County side of the river.
Activities will start at 9:00 a.m. and continue through approximately 1:30 p.m. Residents and visitors can participate by helping out or by simply observing part of the action from one of several convenient locations, including the town docks and the Nathaniel Ellicott footbridge.
The Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition welcomes volunteers to aid with the cleanup effort behind the Mill House Museum. Individuals can simply show up the day of the event, but should wear sturdy shoe, gloves, and clothes that can get dirty.
Divers from Patriot Scuba will begin their cleanup activity around the town docks and the along the shoreline adjacent to Madigan’s Waterfront Restaurant, gradually moving westward to the area behind Patriot Scuba. While the divers work around the town docks, Patriot Scuba staff member Caitlan Hale will discuss and provide information on Project Aware, a global movement of divers acting in their own communities to support underwater conservation. (PADI – the Professional Association of Diving Instructors – also offers a number of Project Aware-related specialty diving certifications). “The town docks offer an opportunity,” according to Mayor Porta, for people to participate by simply buying a box lunch at one of Occoquan’s eateries and then sitting at a picnic table on the docks, or bringing a folding chair to set up, and then just eat while watching the scuba divers in action.”
This is but one of a number of river-related community engagement activities that the town is planning. “The waterfront is one of Occoquan’s major assets,” said Mayor Porta. “It’s also, unfortunately, dramatically underutilized and often underappreciated. Most of the shoreline is privately-owned, so there are limits to what the public can do to improve it, but we can take steps to enhance the public areas, and to help organize collaboration among community partners. Along with the efforts of some private property owners, like the members of the Lynn family who have set a positive example with their shoreline improvements, we can hopefully take steps toward rejuvenating and enhancing the long-term health of the Occoquan waterfront.”
For more information and updates go to www.occoquan.org.