In the face of cold, mist, and wind last Saturday, nine Chesopeian Colony Civic Leaguers were on the job with grabbers and orange trash bags cleaning a busy stretch of Virginia Beach Boulevard.
Traffic zoomed by as the hard working volunteers methodically picked up each bit of trash that had been tossed on the roadside. Sometimes, they stretched over the guard rail to reach a far-flung food wrapper, signboard, cup, or bottle.
You may have seen these Eco-Heroes, as they have been dubbed by LRNow, on one of their bi-monthly cleanups as you were on your way to Lowe’s or another Saturday morning errand in the London Bridge area.
By 11 a.m., the 1.3 mile stretch from Dean Drive on N Lynnhaven Parkway to the Boulevard, then east on the Boulevard to N Great Neck Rd/London Bridge Rd was cleared of food wrappers, bottles, cans, Styrofoam, car parts, clothing, construction debris, and more.
Led by organized and dedicated Paul Heymann, clad in a bright yellow rain slicker, the group ended the morning with about 200 pounds of trash along with a discarded shopping cart. The bags and cart were stacked at the corner of Hutton Circle and Virginia Beach Boulevard near Pep Boys/Auto Zone. You also may have seen similar piles of evidence of hard work on other weekends if you were in the neighborhood.
“An amazing amount of detritus accumulates each 60 days – and more is always available- depending on how far into the brush we have time to search,” Paul said.
The cleanup has been the civic league’s every-other-month ritual since 2021 when it joined the City’s Adopt-A-Program. But the cleanup began unofficially about two years earlier when Paul became dismayed at the trash along that stretch of road.
“I started this effort about 4 years ago by attaching an old trash can from my back yard to the bus stop pole near Pep Boys,” Paul said. “And we now have a second can at the Wawa bus stop on the eastbound side.”
He researched the City’s “Adopt a Highway” program and got the Chesopeian Colony Civic League’s endorsement to form an official team.
Paul then contacted Brian Hess with Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation. Parks and Rec sponsors the City’s Adopt-A-Program which is the official name because it includes highways, parks, waterways, and more. When a group participates in the city’s program, it signs up for a two-year commitment and agrees to complete six cleanups per year.
The efforts of Paul and his crew came to light here at LRNow when Restoration Coordinator Vince Bowhers noticed how clean the area was. Vince knows the area well because he works with LRNow cleanup volunteers in the park and kayak launch area near Pep Boys off Hutton Circle. He collects water samples there too. He called the group of Chesopeian residents that keeps that stretch of highway clean, “unsung heroes.”
And LRNow shortened it to “Eco-Heroes,” which they surely are.