Dover cleanup honors Joe Parks, city’s green spaces

Sunday, April 25, 2010

DOVER — Joe Parks’ legacy lived on Saturday as hundreds of volunteers spruced up the downtown green spaces he spent years preserving.

The 11th annual Dover Pride Cleanup Day was the first not to feature Parks, who died last month at the age of 94.

He was nationally renowned for his rhododendrons, which he planted all over the city — including in the park named in his honor, the Joe B. Parks River Walk Public Gardens near Orchard Street.

The spirit of volunteerism he helped instill in the community — especially its youth — was very much alive Saturday.

Dover High School varsity girls’ soccer team members Casey Murphy, Courtney Williams, and Lauren Morrison were some of the roughly 200 people who participated in the cleanup.

“It’s meaningful,” said Morrison. “It’s sad he’s not here.”

The trio met Parks in the fall of 2009 at the river walk gardens when their team volunteered to clean it up.

They said he was patient teaching them how to care for the plants and appreciative they were volunteering in the first place.

Their coach, Connie Roy, said the team was awestruck seeing Parks — at more than 90 years old — digging up soil and raking leaves.

“That inspired them,” Ray said.

Volunteers on Saturday worked on 13 green spaces, removing branches, painting benches and maintaining plants.

The Kiwanis Club provided a pancake breakfast, Starbucks and Poland Spring donated refreshments, and Kendall Pond Pizza chipped in with lunch. Dover Main Street organized the event.

Local Girls Scouts got in on the act as well.

Lisa Glover’s young troop members from Dover helped out for their community service badge.

“It feels awesome!” said 9-year-old Liberty Streeter, who was busy spreading mulch at Henry Law Park.

Glover said it was a good experience for the girls.

“When they walk by the park, they can say, ‘I’m the one who did that. I’m the one who cleaned it up,'” she said.

It’s all part of a promise to honor Parks’ legacy, according to organizer Britt Ulinski Schuman.

“We’ll keep (the green spaces) looking good,” she said.