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Berlin Kiwanis members Paul Fortier and Glenn Tassey paint new supports on the gazebo in Veterans Memorial Park as part of their contribution to the Downtown Day of Caring on Friday. (KRISTI GAROFALO)

Day of Caring moves Berlin forward with cleanup effort

BERLIN — Spring was definitely in the air all over the city Friday as volunteers worked on landscaping and cleanup of downtown green spaces.

The &#';Downtown Day of Caring,&#'; sponsored by the Berlin Main Street program, drew 75 people to weed, mulch, plant and trim public areas.

Business owners and volunteers from 20 area agencies worked on projects in the Moving Downtown Forward initiative, a strategy passed earlier this year by the city council.

&#';This is one of our action items for the MDF,&#'; said Sylvia Poulin of the Berlin Main Street program. &#';We've been working on the pocket areas for the last few years — we just needed more people.&#';

The Moving Downtown Forward effort has two main parts — design and improvement of physical features and economic revitalization of the downtown area.

Northway Bank employees Kelly Guilmette and Francie Valliere spent Friday morning sweeping and cleaning the small park outside the bank.

&#';We really like to help out the community,&#'; Guilmette said. &#';We care about how it looks.&#';

Valliere said the day was a good way to bring people together. &#';It's not just city workers doing this — it's other people who care, too,&#'; she said.

Kiwanis Club members powerwashed the gazebo in Veteran's Memorial Park earlier in the week. On Friday, Paul Fortier and Glenn Tassey painted the steps and deck.

Volunteers pulled bushes around Bickford Place, laid out landscaping next to SaVoire Flare, and spent hours weeding, sweeping and trimming.

White Mountain Chalet and IGA grocery provided a cookout at Bickford Place Park and PSNH and Coca-Cola donated drinks and snacks.

The city holds the Downtown Day of Caring every year, but this year's streetscape projects were a visible start to the MDF strategy, with more to come throughout the summer.

Renovation of the Smith-Hydro PSNH park entrance is part of the initiative and should begin this summer according to Poulin.

Economic strategies will focus on better services and marketing, redevelopment of key real estate and better communication.

The MDF committee will hold a meeting May 30 to discuss and prioritize the economic objectives.

City councilor Peter Higbee said there are a lot of people who are very excited about the future of the city — including him — and the MDF is a concrete way to move forward.

&#';This is part of the new Berlin — it's reinventing itself,&#'; he said.

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