Volunteers clean up Scranton homeless encampment

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)—Some concerned community members are taking the cleanup of a Scranton homeless encampment upon themselves.

28/22 News Reporter Iyee Jagne met up with the cleanup group Saturday morning to get a closer look.

Despite the wet weather, volunteers showed up to restore a local trail in Scranton after Scranton police posted signs that all homeless people needed to vacate the area.

Volunteers spent the first half of their weekend in Scranton cleaning up the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail. Their target? Trash and personal items belonging to people who are homeless.

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“To try to improve the aesthetic value of the trail for our trail uses and the environment because of the issues with all these plastic items and such which do get into the waterways,” said John Morrow, volunteer coordinator of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority.

Morrow says he is grateful to all the volunteers who showed up in the cold, wet weather.

“These folks here were not deterred by the weather. I always work in it so I’m indifferent. I really appreciate that they despite the conditions were able to get out here and get a lot done,” Morrow said.

28/22 News has been following community concerns about an increase in homeless encampments in Scranton including claims that people living in those encampments near Scranton High School are bothering students as they walk to school.

One volunteer says the hope of having a clean trail for the community once again brought him out for the cleanup despite less-than-ideal weather. He knew something had to be done after he said he saw some nasty things while bike riding with his son last year.

“I started noticing encampments and started exploring into the trail and down by the river and then I started realizing there’s some nasty stuff out there. Human waste, garbage,” Andrew Chomko, a volunteer, told 28/22 News.

Another volunteer said the trash on the trail has been a problem for a while and he wanted to be a part of the group taking action.

“This is not just a Scranton problem. This is a problem that goes outside of the walls of Scranton so to see all these people here in this weather helping out getting dirty and not complaining is amazing to see,” added Mark Dennebaum, another volunteer.

They have been able to clean up some of the garbage but still have a long way to go. You can see across the river there is still more trash. Their goal is to get the trail clean for events being held there.

“We are looking to present the trail system the best possible light for the Scranton half marathon, which will be held on April 7,” Morrow concluded.

The mayor’s office released the following statement regarding the cleanup:

The City was made aware of a citizen-organized cleanup that occurred today. Separate from today’s cleanup, the City has worked with private property owners to clean up trash accumulated at similar sites over the last four months

Office of the Mayor of Scranton

Volunteers plan on returning tomorrow to continue the cleanup along the trail.

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