WMU News

Volunteers to clean up Prospect Hill

Oct. 12, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- It has been 10 years since its last facelift, but a group of volunteers will give Western Michigan University's Prospect Hill the equivalent of a good shave on Saturday, Oct. 27.

The Hilltoppers, a volunteer group consisting of WMU staff, faculty and students and some community members, will undertake the task of removing more than a decade's worth of shrubbery, "volunteer" trees and overgrowth from the hill, which overlooks the Vine Street neighborhood and downtown Kalamazoo.

WMU staffers Greg Moorehead, assistant director of alumni relations; Mary Lou Brooks, office coordinator in the Department of Blind Rehabilitation; and Kevin Vichcales, coordinator of graduate assistantships in the Graduate College; are initiating the cleanup effort and have organized a team of University and community volunteers.

The group is working in cooperation with WMU's Landscape Services, which will cut brush on the top 25 feet of the hill in the days preceding the volunteer cleanup. Approximately 100 volunteers are expected to then remove the cut material from "stairway to stairway," which is approximately 500 feet across.

"Prospect Hill is an important reminder of the interdependence of the University and community and we want to restore the view of WMU's East Hall and its portico for the surrounding neighborhood and the community," says Moorehead. "Because of its physical and historical significance, the hillside's appearance is very important and symbolic."

The Hilltoppers, which adopted their name from the nickname Western athletes had in the University's early years, have been working since this summer to recruit volunteers and secure donations of materials including gloves, food and beverages. Among the sponsors signed on so far is Cosmos Cucina, a Vine neighborhood eatery that will provide the volunteers with beverages.

In preparation for the cleanup effort, employees of WMU's Landscape Services, including two arborists, surveyed the hillside and determined what trees and shrubs should be removed. Dead trees and those up to three inches in diameter will be taken out, while healthy larger trees and those that may be of unusual or desirable species will be kept. According to Tim Holysz, manager of WMU Landscape Services, the majority of the material to be removed is brush, including volunteer and weed trees and wild vines. He says that this kind of massive cleanup of the hillside was last conducted about a decade ago and that having a volunteer corps to remove the cut debris will make the effort go much more quickly.

WMU President Elson S. Floyd is expected to be among the volunteers working during the cleanup. Those volunteering are asked to wear long-sleeve shirts, long pants, work boots with good treads, work gloves and eye protection. Organizers warn that volunteers will be working on the hillside, which has a steep incline.

Interested volunteers can register online at the Hilltoppers Web site.

For more information, call Greg Moorehead at (616) 387-8775, Mary Lou Brooks at (616) 387-3456 or Kevin Vichcales at (616) 387 8208 .

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
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Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
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