Michael Pizzarelli grew up in the neighborhood, sometimes referred to fondly by the locals as simply the Hood. From an early age, Michael discovered his Hood was different from a lot of his friends in elementary school. After all, his
Michael Pizzarelli grew up in the neighborhood, sometimes referred to fondly by the locals as simply the Hood. From an early age, Michael discovered his Hood was different from a lot of his friends in elementary school. After all, his Hood was unique. It contained a fresh water pond called Sand Pond in a section of Warwick identified as Massasoit Terrace.
As a youngster, Michael was a frequent visitor to the pond. As a result, he became a pretty good angler. On his way to and from the pond, he kept seeing a sign on one of the front lawns welcoming boys to join a Cub Scout Pack. So, he asked the occupants of the house what it was all about and he was invited to become a member of an established and well-respected Pack at the Lakewood Baptist Church. Pack leaders and other boys, some of whom resided in his Hood, were welcoming. With his love for everything the outdoors has to offer, Michael had no problem finding his comfort zone in the pack.
To no one’s surprise, Michael smoothly transitioned from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. As the years passed, he moved up the traditional path in scouting holding every rank, but one. With a strong possibility of successfully moving to the top step, but with time moving forward, he had to make a serious commitment to pursue the final and most difficult challenge in scouting – that of Eagle Scout. Included in the rigorous requirements to reach this objective is an Eagle Project that provides value to the individual scout and community.
Michael’s path to completing his Eagle Project reverted back to his familiarity with and knowledge of his neighborhood. He observed that several paths leading to his favorite fishing spots had become overgrown with invasive vegetation, making them difficult for the general public to access and enjoy. So, he developed a plan to clean up overgrown weeds, stumps and debris. The plan required seeking and receiving approval from Warwick’s Parks and Recreation Department. A work plan had to be developed while tools, equipment and lawn bags were procured. Most importantly, fellow scouts from Troop 1 in Conimicut, friends, family and neighbors had to be recruited to show up on the appropriate date, at the appointed hour, to roll up their sleeves, don their gloves and get the job done.
As it turned out, Michael’s initiative really fired up the neighborhood and the project grew in scope and size to include clearing or cleaning the rim of Sand Pond, the adjacent Historical Cemetery #9 and the traffic circle at Sand Pond Road, Puritan Drive and Bucklin Street. Many of the neighbors who came to help were affiliated with Save Sand Pond, a 501 C 3, dedicated to preserving and improving the quality of the environmentally fragile glacial pond and its surrounding neighborhood so as to protect and preserve it for the enjoyment of the community and future generations.
Lots of dried leaves, trimmings from shrubs and twigs or small branches were collected and deposited in paper lawn bags. Then set aside for a trip to the city’s compost station.
A large tree in the cemetery which had recently come down in a windstorm was cut up with a chain saw and moved to the curb. Individuals needing firewood hauled away manageable size pieces of the trunk and large branches. Smaller branches still clinging to their leaves were moved to the curb and ultimately disposed of by the Department of Public Works (DPW).
At the rim of the pond, the debris recovered was predominately rusty cans, glass bottles, plastic containers, bait boxes, broken fishing rods and discarded strands of broken fishing lines. These were placed in plastic trash bags and properly disposed of with the assistance of the DPW.
Not being satisfied with just a land-based assault, at least two of the more adventurous Sand Ponders boarded kayaks and ventured onto the water. One donned fisherman’s waders and penetrated the muck or water to facilitate trash retrieval. That’s when some of the more exotic debris started to turn up. First, it was one car tire, eventually followed by four more. Then came a chair, a duckpin and bowling balls, presumably from the Old Brunswick Lanes. Many years ago, one can just imagine somebody bowling on the ice of the frozen pond.
The search for debris from the water culminated with discovery of a hood of an automobile. Being a car buff, maybe Mayor Solomon can identify which make and model vehicle the hood came from. Loading and transporting the hood onto a kayak and traversing the Pond to the drop off point was no easy task. Transferring it from the kayak to shore proved to be even more problematic. As it turned out the hood slipped from the grip of the land lovers, slid back into the pond and disappeared into deep water.
By the next day, word had circulated in the Hood that the hood had eluded retrieval. That’s when the resident frogman stepped to the plate, donned his goggles and used his flashlight to locate the hood 12 to 15 feet below the surface of the water. Once located, the frogman used a tether, with a powerful magnet attached, to secure the hood. Up it came and the final chapter of Michael’s idea for a cleanup on his path to becoming an Eagle Scout was written.
The exercise proved once again that our neighborhood, or Hood for short, is like no other or at least there are very few Hoods like ours. We come together to support each other, walk as we talk, take real pride in the place we call home and accomplish greatness when supported by our City. Most of all, it illustrates that we are not quitters and will pursue a worthwhile cause, with imagination and determination, to the very end no matter how much time or effort it takes.
A longtime Massasoit Terrace homeowner, Dave Bouchard has spearheaded the effort to stop the conversion of a portion of Sand Pond Plaza into self-storage unirs.