There are a few sites around the edges of town, though admittedly not many, where trash, garbage, and debris clutter the sides of roads and open space areas.
These littered areas so bothered Town Councilman and retired school teacher James Clancy that he last year re-launched Project Pride, a community-wide effort that he first inaugurated in 1986.
“I got the idea from a magazine that had run an article about a similar program in Ridgewood. In Ridgewood, they decided to clean up and beautify their central business district through the planting of flowers and,” Clancy recently recalled. “Around the same time I took office, someone else had suggested to me that the town start planting trees, especially seeing that Secaucus has one of the last existing woods in Hudson County.”
“Everyone got involved with Project Pride.” – James Clancy
With the help of a local Girl Scouts Brownie troop who volunteered their labor, flower-filled wooden wine barrels soon graced the Plaza area. The town’s Department of Public Works (DPW), Clancy said, took on the task of planting trees throughout Secaucus.
On the suggestion of former DPW superintendent Michael Gonnelli, the department eventually took on the task of growing young flower seedlings in the Elms greenhouse. The flowers were later planted in the Plaza on Project Pride Day, which was always held one Saturday in May.
Project Pride eventually waned, though remnants of it continued during the town’s annual Arbor Day/Earth Day celebrations, when trees and flowers were often planted by students from Huber and Clarendon.
When Clancy re-joined the council last year, one of his first orders of business was to resurrect the Project Pride concept. The town now sets aside one day each year for Project Pride, a day when homeowners are encouraged to pay a little extra attention to their property, when volunteers set out to collect any bits of trash and debris on the outskirts of town, and when Brownie Troops and Boy Scouts plant trees and flowers in the center of town.
Secaucus celebrated its most recent Project Pride day on May 14.
“What Project Pride does is it makes our residents aware of how the community looks,” said Clancy, who sat on the Town Council from 1986 until 1993. In January 2010 he was appointed to serve out the remainder of former 2nd Ward Councilman Michael Gonnelli’s term, who had been elected mayor. Last November, Clancy was elected to a full four-year term on the council.
“Residents are encouraged to take better care of the community, not just their own homes – not just private property, but communal spaces, too.”
The initiative, he added, includes a public awareness component that discourages littering and graffiti and promotes “pride in Secaucus…It emphasizes respect for the community, our collective spaces, but also a respect for nature and the earth. It really is like a local environmental effort that underscores some of the main objectives of Earth Day, but we do it on a very local level.”
Since the program was relaunched last year, Clancy credited Project Pride, a volunteer-driven effort, with “beautifying the Plaza and helping to reduce some of the litter and garbage you used to see around town.”
Public recycling bins were also added to street corners around town last summer, also thanks to a suggestion from Project Pride volunteers, Clancy noted.
Brownies, scouts still involved
On Saturday, May 14, the local Brownie troop was expected to be on hand, as always, to help plant flowers in the center of town. The Flowers were expected to be planted from Town Hall down to Minnie Place. Some flowers were also expected to go on Front Street.
Three Boy Scouts who are going for their Eagle Merit badge had also agreed to volunteer their labor as well.
Within the next two weeks about 65 trees will be planted throughout Secaucus, thanks to a grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Ten additional trees being donated from the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission will also be planted in town in the coming weeks.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.