Spring Cleanup is a real pick-me-up
The city of Glenwood Springs calls it Spring Cleanup, but many local residents know it’s so much more than that.The annual city event is as much a swap as a chance to let the city haul people’s accumulated junk to the dump.It all comes down to what someone considers to be junk.Deb Lundin said it never ceases to amuse her, what some people think is worth taking from cleanup piles awaiting pickup by city crews.”It’s hilarious, it’s so much fun to watch,” she said, and neighbor Jonathan Satz talked about watching people cruise by, eyeing possible treasures. Satz feigned offense at Lundin’s pile getting smaller, but not his.”What’s wrong with my junk?” he wanted to know.Glenwood’s Spring Cleanup has become a big tradition in town, in large part because of the swap aspect of it, said City Council member Dave Merritt.”I’ve put out a number of things for the cleanup over the years. I put them out early enough so they sit there and folks get a chance to look at them and see if they want to take them,” he said.He and many others see it as recycling that helps keep things out of the landfill. Merritt has gotten rid of a storm door that way, leaving its extra parts in a coffee can beside it. Ditto for some wire fencing once used to pen in the family dog.”I rolled it up and spring cleaning time came and I put it out and a couple of days later it wasn’t there anymore,” he said.Alice Sundeen said she carefully presents better-quality items, and has had people go away with things including lawn chairs, a chest of drawers and some children’s toys that way.”I display them and they are picked up,” she said.
City street superintendent Rick Turner, who runs the Spring Cleanup program, said probably half the pile he put out in front of his home disappeared last year. A co-worker put out a washer and dryer that were old but still ran, and they too found a new home.Turner said he knows of no city rules against taking items put out for collection by the city.”If people take what they want it’s fine with me. It’s just that much less I have to deal with,” he said. “If somebody else can use it, good for them.”So who uses all this stuff? Rachel Windh, for one. She loves Spring Cleanup, and tours the city almost daily, and sometimes twice on weekends, to see what treasures have shown up on the streets.”I look forward to it every year: ‘Oh boy, oh boy, what am I going to find this year?’ Why go buy something new when you can get it free?”Windh owns the For You Shoppe, a consignment store in downtown Glenwood Springs.”I’m the queen of the scavengers, and if I don’t want it, I bring it here and sell it,” she said.Many of the treasures she finds never make it into the store. She’s redoing her whole backyard with what she calls “street trash.” She just scored a nice wrought-iron table.”I always get good stuff,” she said.Among it: ladders, planters, bricks, an antique Thermos, tools, mirrors and more. She fixed up a table last year and sold it for $60.Even if something makes it in her shop, it might not go up for sale. “I have stuff here that people want to buy, and I won’t sell it to them,” she said, pointing as an example to some rustic wood fencing decorating the front interior of her store.Not surprisingly, people who patronize Windh’s store also keep their eyes open around Glenwood Springs during Spring Cleanup. Customer Maria Sippola’s son Vali benefited from someone’s streetside largess. “He just got a sandbox,” she said.
Windh is something of a professional in the Spring Cleanup salvaging game, but admits she has competition in that regard. On a recent weekday, Jim Hawkins, who with his wife Sharill owns Four Mile Creek Bed & Breakfast outside Glenwood, prowled the city’s streets in his van, passing Satz and Lundin’s houses in his quest for quality castoffs.”Jim and I are always competing, ‘I found this before you did!’ We always have to compare what we found,” Windh said.Hawkins said many others also are out there looking.”A lot of stuff moves around in those piles,” he said.He said residents tell him of items migrating around neighborhoods.Hawkins and his wife, who once received as gag gifts athletic-style shirts with the words “Dumpster Diving Team,” like to use recovered objects for decorating their establishment. They also like antiquing, going to auctions and shops like Windh’s.Hawkins said he’s found treasures such as antique butter crocks along Glenwood’s streets during Spring Cleanup. The event has helped him with a hobby of turning rusty but history-laden items into sculptures and other art. He displays some of them by drilling holes in rock bases with a drill press he found during – what else? – Spring Cleanup.”I find everything from really useful building stuff to serious antiquities that people have tossed out with shrubs and the old 10-speeds,” he said.He said he once found a $500 mountain bike that was fine except for a broken derailleur.”I still ride the thing,” he said.It all raises the question of why people dump – or give away – the things they do.”The debate among folks who do this (collecting) is do they not know what they’ve got or do they just not care. I think it’s somewhere in between,” he said.He understands what motivates some people – not him, mind you.
“At some point you get tired of all this stuff and at some point it gets easier to throw it out than figure out what to do with it,” he said.Turner said the Spring Cleanup goes back at least to 1982, when he started working with the city. The swap aspect of it seems to be a more recent phenomenon, he said.Satz said he finds he has to be careful about what he picks up in other people’s piles. Sometimes, he has grabbed things such as a sink and railroad ties, only to put them out in his pile the following year.A drive down Glenwood back streets last week revealed no lack of offerings: bedposts, box springs, mattresses, chairs, tree stands, bathtubs, car toppers, sleds, skis and poles, TVs, vacuum cleaners. Even a toilet.Turner said his crews removed a ski boat about five years ago. There’s not much the city won’t take, except things such as tires and hazardous materials. The city sponsors a separate hazardous materials collection day each year. This year’s was held on Saturday.Merritt considers Spring Cleanup to be a great community service that’s much appreciated by residents, especially those without a pickup truck or other means of hauling things off.”It’s a way to get rid of things that you’ve accumulated and don’t want, and makes the yards look good,” he said.Turner said he sees some elderly people put an item or two out, just to be a part of the popular event.One of the few problems he sees during the cleanup is people from outside the city leaving things on city streets to take advantage of the program. It’s open to city residents only.Unless, of course, you’re picking up something rather than dropping it off. Nonresident scavengers are welcome. They just might want to get there before Hawkins or Windh does.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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