NORTH ADAMS -- Kelsey Marini, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts senior, had never scraped paint off of a metal bridge.
But there's a first time for everything. At Saturday's 22nd Annual Community Day of Service, Marini and a dozen of the college's womens soccer and lacrosse players pitched in to make the Appalachian Trail footbridge in the city's west end a little nicer.
More than 200 community members turned out for Saturday's event, completing close to 600 hours of work at 17 service sites.
Glenn Maloney, organizer and president of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, said this year's event focused on community health and wellness. It ties in with the city's participation in Mass in Motion, he said, which promotes healthy lifestyles in the region.
The Appalachian Trail footbridge connects the Phelps Avenue and State Road intersection to Massachusetts Avenue, crossing the railroad and Hoosic River. Built in 1958, the bridge offers scenic views of the river and mountains, but is plagued with peeling green paint and graffiti.
Students were given paint scrapers, graffiti removal spray, and paper masks for the task of cleaning up the bridge.
"Ideally we want to get it down to a smooth surface so a group can repaint it," Benjamin Lamb, city councilor and event organizer, said.
Across the city, other community members were picking up trash and brush along a quarter-mile walking trail on Willow Dell.
"We want to make this place nice and bring people down to the river," Hoosic River Revival board member Richie Doucette said. "Hopefully this trail will someday have flowers and maybe benches."
The trail, which runs along the Hoosic River and connects Union Street with Willow Dell, was completely overgrown when students in the E3 Academy, an alternative learning program out of Drury High School, undertook the project at the beginning of the school year.
"There were only six of us that did this, we cleared the whole trail out," Amber DiGennaro of North Adams and an E3 Academy senior said. "To have people in the community come out and clean up the trail that we made, its amazing to know that people actually care about what we did."
Phil Sellers of Art about Town worked with a dozen MCLA students to bring some color to the walking path underneath the Veteran's Memorial Bridge.
"This will really brighten it up," Sellers said as students adorned the white, concrete wall with chalk drawings of running figures, flowers, and cartoon characters.
Mass in Motion Coordinator Amanda Chilson said the path, which pedestrians use to safely cross Route 2, is part of a walking loop that circles Mass MoCA. The path was once littered with trash and graffiti, she said.
"We hope that if we make this an inviting space and have more traffic here, people will keep it cleaner," she said.
Other projects included yard work in the Brayton Hill and Mohawk Forest neighborhoods, volunteering with the Northern Berkshire YMCA, and picking up litter at various spots in the city.
To reach Edward Damon:
or (413) 663-3741 ext 224.
On Twitter: @BE_EDamon