Travis Johnson and a group of Take Two volunteers unload a trailer of bulky items on Bartlett Street in Lewiston during the Healthy Neighborhoods Trash Amnesty & Education event May 3-4. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

LEWISTON — When it was all said and done, neighbors removed 63,268 pounds of bulky waste and unwanted items earlier this month from the downtown.

The volunteer-led effort, organized by Healthy Neighborhoods, was given formal recognition by city officials this week for rallying 137 residents, nonprofit leaders, business owners and city officials for the two-day event.

While it provided an opportunity for those in the Tree Streets neighborhood to dispose of their bulky waste for free, it also offered education on recycling and waste-disposal rules. Organizers distributed 120 trash bins and 30 recycling bins to local households.

According to a news release from the organizers, volunteers transformed a vacant, city-owned double lot on Bartlett Street into a transfer station that exactly matched the layout and sorting categories of Lewiston’s Solid Waste Facility.

“Six roaming trash pickup crews circled the 12-­block neighborhood throughout the two days, loading trailers with unwanted items and bringing them to the event where other volunteers helped unload and sort,” according to the release.

The volunteers filled 12 30-yard dumpsters with bulky and household waste, collected seven pallets of electronics, filled a U-Haul truck with appliances, another U-Haul truck with furniture and filled cargo trailers with recyclables and tires.

The Healthy Neighborhoods event was meant as a kickoff to the group’s Growing Our Tree Streets beautification effort that will continue this year.

According to the organizers, the event was pulled together following a series of community conversations, in which they “heard clearly that everyone wants their neighborhood to be clean and tidy, that trash issues arise due to barriers residents experience that prevent them from succeeding.”

Trash removal is a multilayered issue in the neighborhood, especially for residents who do not have a way to transport trash and unwanted items to the Transfer Station several miles away, according to the release.

“This event aimed to remove as many barriers as possible, provide educational materials and trash management tools, and solicit feedback to help design longer-term, systematic solutions.”

The city no longer offers free bulky waste pickup. Auburn conducts one every two years.

“The neighborhood remains safer and cleaner, not because a bunch of outsiders tried to ‘fix it,’ but because the residents identified the solutions and worked together to make it happen,” according to the release.

Volunteers for the recent Trash Amnesty & Education event were recognized by the Lewiston City Council on Tuesday. City of Lewiston photo

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