LONG BRANCH: Lake Takanassee on a clear sunny autumn day is beautiful, a sight to behold.
It is one of those gems of the city on Ocean Avenue between North and South Lakeshore Drives bordered on the east by a sandy entrance to the Atlantic and on the west by a railroad trestle which opens a path to the upstream waters of Whalepond Brook that extends to Tinton Falls as it passes through West Long Branch, Ocean Township and Eatontown.
These groups and Environmental Commissions in those towns have combined cleanup projects for more than five years. In Long Branch the EC was re-energized by Mayor Adam Schneider with environmental and beautification projects like the removal of the old, fire destroyed Coast guard building a few years back, a danger to all and an eyesore to the shoreline.
On Nov. 15, members of the Whalepond Brook Association, the New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors - a part of AmeriCorps, the Monmouth County Clean Communities organization supported strongly by the Freeholders, and individuals from Clean Ocean Action, several local Girl Scouts, a few students from Stockton University who heard about the cleanup online, a local landscaper who enjoys working on creating a great environment and keeping it clean were at Lake Tak with shovels, a big truck, and big bags to fill with cans, bottles, other packing stuff, and even a discarded Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer toy found in the bushes at lakeside.
The County's Will Johnson and helpers filled the truck with 1,000 pounds of everything and anything including a couple of good sized carpets dumped in the weeds off the street. "No accidental oops" they said aloud.
Tiffany Falcone and the volunteer crew were there from the Ambassadors. She also brought coffee and baked treats for energy. They were donated by Panera Bread in Shrewsbury.
Faith Teitlebaum from the Whalepond Association helped get the event started and coordinated with help from all the most willing participants.
Most had been to Lake Tak before, and knew the work needed, which allowed them to bring tools but gloves and tools were provided on site. Some volunteers just came by at the last minute.
Almost all who signed up early made the event except the Long Branch EC which ran into a last minute situation which unfortunately kept them from their usual great assist. Students from Long Branch High School and Shore Regional High were among the workers, earning community service acknowledgments for the hard work they put in.
For the future, volunteers can contact the Monmouth County Clean Communities (Will Johnson, Administrator, at 732-859-4947), Faith T. at www.restorethewatershedassociation.org and the Long Branch Environmental Commission or city development offices to pitch in. Over the course of each year tons of materials are collected and properly disposed.
"The towns and the ducks in Lake Tak will certainly appreciate all you do." said volunteer Beth Woolley.