John All of Bowling Green stood next to the College Street pedestrian bridge Saturday morning, already spotting trash along the riverbank before rappelling to clean it up.
“It looks like it’s been down there for years and years, just kind of accumulated over time,” he said.
All and other members of the Bowling Green Riverfront Foundation want to turn the area around the bridge into a recreation destination, with biking, kayaking and climbing options.
“There’s kind of a nice opportunity here to create something new or beneficial for the town,” said All, vice president of the foundation.
But right now, the riverfront area surrounding the bridge is not in good condition, with trash littering the riverbank and floating tree limbs making the river unsafe for kayaking or swimming. Removing the trash and dangerous trees is one of the main goals of the foundation, which hosted a riverfront cleanup Saturday. Eighteen volunteers spread along the riverbank to pick up trash.
“We want to lure people here, and the cleaner it looks, the better everything will get,” said Clinton Lewis, president of the foundation. “We just want to do good things for the community. We can’t stop people from kayaking or swimming in the river, but we can make it safer for them. We’re excited to see the usage has gone up, and we just want to make it as exciting and welcoming as possible.”
With the Low Hollow Trail and greenway paths in nearby Weldon Peete Park and the potential for kayaking and climbing under the bridge, Lewis thinks the area could become “the most awesome square mile within eight hours” of Bowling Green.
“There’s lots of recreation opportunities around Bowling Green, but no single square mile has all three elements,” he said.
All is excited about the possibility of abandoned land becoming a hub of outdoor activities.
“Turning it into something useful is the best recycling possible,” he said.