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Adopt-a-Spot organizers learn a lot in their first year

WINDHAM — It’s a wrap for the maiden season of the Windham Adopt-a-Spot program, and organizers are already brainstorming ways to ensure greater success with next year’s event.

During Monday night’s Windham Board of Selectmen meeting, Community Development Director Laura Scott and event organizer Lisa Ferrisi shared details of the recently completed program. Adopt-A-Spot ran from June through September.

Ferrisi, who serves on the town’s Conservation Commission, said a total of 27 businesses, nonprofits or other citizen groups assisted over that time period.

Tasked with removing litter, weeding neglected flower beds and adding colorful plants, the participants were responsible for maintaining their spots throughout the summer and early autumn, with materials donated by several area businesses.

This year’s crop of volunteers completed projects at 34 different sites around town, including the town beach, the grounds of Windham Town Hall, the Griffin Park walking trails and the Windham Depot.

According to program officials, the 2013 participants filled a total of 50 trash bags and completed just under 50 hours of service over the four-month time frame.

A survey distributed among the participants last month offered some helpful suggestions for organizing next year’s program, Ferrisi said.

“One thing we learned is that we need to use flowers that are more tolerant of the sunnier areas,” she said.

An interactive online map depicting spots in need of attention is being planned for next year, Ferrisi added, while next year’s participation survey might also be done online.

“We also need to reevaluate some of the sites and improve communication amongst the volunteers,” she said. “Because we found that some of the smaller sites could have actually been combined. Some of the areas weren’t as bad as we’d thought, and the volunteers completed those jobs in no time at all.”

Selectman Roger Hohenberger said he, for one, was quite pleased with this year’s Adopt-A-Spot.

“It’s been a great thing for our community,” he said.

Scott said that during the process of organizing the initial Adopt-A-Spot, she met many area business owners who wished to donate money toward the cause but didn’t have the time to volunteer.

“The areas around Route 111 would be perfect candidates for a business sponsorship,” Scott said, noting that plans are in the works to expand sponsorship opportunities in the coming season.

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