June 22, 2005

Creek yields all but kitchen sink

By John Darcy

BEACON Saturday's cleanup of the Fishkill Creek near Main and East Main streets yielded a laundry list of discarded appliances and other items.

It also produced an intangible a sense of accomplishment and responsibility.

The effort was "great, it was inspiring," said Beacon resident George Mansfield, who was one of about 20 volunteers pitching in.

"Kids, grandmothers, new people in town and people who have been here for generations" participated, he said.

With help from Central Construction owner Tom Ninnie contributed and operated a backhoe in the cause heavy household appliances and furniture were lifted from the creek bank and deposited in the bed of a dump truck provided by the city of Beacon.

A TV, couch, hot water tank, vacuum cleaner, rugs, mattress spring, an auto gasoline tank, tires, barbecue grill, a 55-gallon drum, seven bicycles and a typewriter were among the finds.

"That is basically a partial list with emphasis" on the larger items, said Rick Oestrike, chairman of the Fishkill Creek Watershed Committee.

Some 26 garbage bags also were filled with assorted items.

"It's all in the perception," Mansfield said. "If it (the creek and its banks) looks unkempt, people will continue to dump." The cleanup is all about "trying to raise awareness that the creek is not a sewer or a dump."

Mansfield said he previously cleaned up a portion of the creek farther downstream, near his property on Spring Valley Street. That job produced four bikes, a lawn mower, chairs and more, he said.

Saturday's project was not an isolated event, he said. "Enthusiasm is growing," said Mansfield, who received post-cleanup calls inquiring about future creek sweeps in Beacon.

Oestrike said the watershed committee plans to make the cleanup an annual event, focusing on a different geographic part of the creek each year. More than 30 miles in length, the "main stem" of the creek extends from Union Vale in eastern Dutchess to Beacon in the southern part of the county. It passes through Fishkill, East Fishkill and Beekman, and its tributaries include Sprout and Clove creeks, he said.

Saturday's cleanup, organized by the watershed committee, was part of Scenic Hudson's Great River Sweep, Oestrike said.

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