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City cancels Laurel Lake trash cleanup event

Laurel Lake was drained and now is in need of a cleanup.
Laurel Lake was drained and now is in need of a cleanup. (Courtesy photo/Carl Dewalt)

A Laurel community clean-up event to remove large amounts of trash from the lower portion of Laurel Lake has been indefinitely canceled by the city’s Park and Recs department.

The Old Town Clean Up Crew, a group of local residents that meets about every five weeks between March and November to clean up a section of the city, was scheduled to have a clean-up party on March 2 at Laurel Lake.

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However, due to a bad weather forecast, the crew was looking to reschedule the event later in the month. Parks and Recreation, which is responsible for maintenance of the lake, announced Monday that the event was canceled altogether. The department would not say why the event was canceled indefinitely, only saying through a city spokeswoman “They will let you know if and when [the] clean up is rescheduled.”

Laurel Lake was drained a few months ago as part of a water quality improvement project of the Clean Water Partnership and Prince George’s County.

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Del. Mary Lehman, a former Prince George's County Councilwoman, is a dedicated public servant who is an education and environmental advocate.

In order to meet regulatory requirements for treating stormwater within Prince George’s County, forebays are being installed in Laurel Lake to capture sediments and other pollutants before stormwater is released into the pond, , according to a city of Laurel news release.

For the project, the lake was drained in order to install the forebays. t

As the lake was drained, the garbage in and around the lake became evident.

It was Laurel City Councilman Carl DeWalt who initially brought up the trash issue with both the city and the citizen’s group.

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“I drive by there several times a week and I looked over and I saw … there was a lot of trash,” DeWalt said. “I couldn’t believe the mounds of trash, bottles, cans and signs. It was horrible, absolutely horrible.”

DeWalt said while the lake has since filled with rain water, covering a lot of the trash, there was “still plenty of trash around the edges.”

Kathie Peterson, a Laurel resident who founded the Old Town Clean Up Crew in 2016, was approached by DeWalt to help clean up the lake.

“It is a mess,” Peterson said. “When we drove by there and the water was way, way down, all you could see was bottles and garbage. It was horrendous.”

DeWalt said he is determined to make sure the trash will be picked up before the lake is filled.

“It’s sad to see people don’t pick up their trash,” he said.

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