WATERVILLE — The so-called “Colby Bubble” popped years ago.

On Saturday, students and Colby College faculty volunteers made sure it stayed popped with a massive cleanup of Waterville’s gritty South End neighborhood.

Six 30-yard dumpsters were placed strategically around the neighborhood, where an estimated 100-plus city and college volunteers filled them with old household and yard goods to be hauled away to the Waste Management Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock for processing.

They arrived in pickup trucks, cars and even a double-seater all-terrain vehicle, all to be loaded with refuse that neighborhood residents had set on the sidewalk to be hauled away.

“We’re really excited that Colby is this involved,” Waterville City Councilor Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7, said from the command post Saturday outside the South End Teen Center on Water Street. “If this is the thing to get to the thing — if dumpsters is what you need to help clean up the neighborhood to get to the thing, which is a better quality of life in the neighborhood that inspires people to continue to maintain that — then we can do that. Let’s do this.”

Dupont, a member of the South End Neighborhood Association, added that improving the properties in the area will in turn attract new homebuyers and renters for an infusion of capital.

She said all “the stuff” being collected Saturday is coming from people’s homes, apartment buildings and the nearby embankment of the Kennebec River. She said that unless there are volunteer days like Saturday, people “in survival mode” who lack the means to get rid of unwanted things such as old TVs, videocassette recorders, tires and furniture, will resort of to tossing them where they don’t belong.

Zhuofan Zhang, a Colby student of computer science from Bejing, China, was sporting a blue T-shirt that read “Popping The Bubble,” and he knew what it meant.

“I think it means popping the bubble surrounding Colby College,” he said. “It means that we can interact with downtown Waterville, instead of staying up on the hill.”

Carly Swartz, a Colby sophomore from North Reading, Massachusetts, who was helping with the cleanup Saturday with fellow members of the Colby softball team, said it is important to volunteer in Waterville.

“I think it’s really important to help the residents of the town we go to college in,” she said. “It puts perspective where we’re going to school and the people we’re always around and helping the community.”

Her teammate and fellow student Kate Guerin, a first-year student from Bowdoinham, said they are familiar with the expression “popping the bubble” and that is what they are trying to change, to show that the college and the students really care.

“We’re trying to change that. There’s a huge initiative on campus right now,” she said. “We’re trying to show that we care about the town; we want to be more integrated with the schools, with the kids, with the people — popping the Colby bubble that we’re in.

“We’re in an isolated campus. A lot of times I think we think that what we do doesn’t have an impact on where we live or the people around us, but it really does. We need to show that we’re not just isolated on campus, but we’re part of the town.”

Mason Brady, a Colby sophomore from Menlo Park, California, majoring in computer science, said he and his friends were busy Saturday unloading pickup trucks into the waiting dumpsters.

“This is great. I love coming out into the community and making an impact,” he said. “It’s not often that we get to do stuff like this. It’s really fun.”

Dupont said volunteer Paula Raymond, of the neighborhood association’s Quality of Life Committee, who works for the adult education program in Waterville, walked around the neighborhood and talked to people all summer, telling them to get ready for Saturday’s cleanup and handed out flyers.

“This is my neighborhood — born and raised. This is my haunt, this is my neighborhood, and we want to clean it up,” Raymond said. “We got together with Colby and they offered dumpsters and students to help us today. We knocked on doors to tell people what was happening at not cost to them. Colby has donated the cost of everything.”

The Central Maine Apartment Owners Association also participated in the cleanup Saturday.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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