You have Elsa Elizondo and her hard-working friends to thank for a cleaner i-215 corridorAug 05, 2022 10:10AM ● By Carl Fauver
Larry Langton, Teresa Martinez and Elsa Elizondo (L-R) get up early on Saturday mornings to help beautify the belt route around the elbow between the 4700 South exit and the Redwood Road exit. (Courtesy Elsa Elizondo)
Relatively new Taylorsville resident, Elsa Elizondo, 67, doesn’t take no for an answer. When she sets her sights on something, it generally gets done. And her pet project this time around is proving to be beneficial for everyone who detests litter in the belt route corridor as much as she does.
“As I was making several trips back and forth (across the Salt Lake Valley) last year, moving into a new (to her) home in Taylorsville, I was just disgusted by all the litter along I-215,” Elizondo explained. “I knew I wanted to do something about it. So first I reached out to Taylorsville City.”
Eventually the determined Elizondo exchanged emails and had a few meetings with Mayor Kristie Overson.
“She spoke with me about all the trash along the freeway and asked why the city was not doing anything about it,” Overson said. “I told her cleaning it up would be wonderful, but she would have to work through UDOT. She was determined; so, I wasn’t surprised when she soon had a cleanup crew put together.”
Elizondo says the Utah Department of Transportation had a little bit of red tape to work through. She did not actually “Adopt a Highway” as we so often see roadside signs highlighting. But Elizondo did get the state agency’s blessing to put together a work crew. And UDOT provided them with endless garbage bags in the transportation agency’s favorite color – traffic cone orange.
“We ended up cleaning litter along the I-215 corridor four times last year, in August, September and October,” Elizondo said. “By that last cleanup, on Saturday, October 9, there were more than a dozen volunteers – including Mayor Overson. All totaled last year, we picked up 105 bags full of garbage.”
“As I talked with her about her cleanup plans, I ended up volunteering for the last one,” the mayor added. “We found drinking cans and bottles, articles of clothing, a mishmash of junk including a lot of things I didn’t want to touch, even with big rubber gloves on. I also remember it was a cold rainy day. But we worked hard at it for a couple of hours.”
Last month, Elizondo and her volunteers started in again, with a pair of cleanup Saturday mornings on July 16 and 23. She has six more sessions planned this year – and she could use your help.
“Our next belt route cleanup mornings will be on August 6 and 13, September 3 and 10, and October 15 and 22,” Elizondo said. “Volunteers can wear shorts, but they need solid shoes, nothing open-toed. Bring a rake if you have one – and good gloves. We will provide the garbage bags. Oh, and you need to be at least 18 years old – no children, for safety reasons.”
Elizondo says its also important to wear a brightly-colored safety vest or, if you don’t have one, a bright orange, green or yellow shirt. UDOT provided her with a dozen safety vests last year. But those have already been given to her “regulars” and she’s not received any additional ones yet.
Volunteers should meet in the now-closed Reams parking lot (4700 South 2700 West) at 7:15 on any of those mornings. You don’t need to contact Elizondo ahead of time. But if you have any questions, you can reach her at [email protected] or 385-445-4638.
Several area businesses support Elizondo’s efforts by providing free beverages and meal discounts including: Dee’s Family Restaurant (4710 S. Redwood Road), Chevron Gas Station (2716 W. 4700 South) and Penny Ann’s Café (1856 W. 5400 South).
“I think Elsa is remarkable – so determined and so proud of her community,” Overson concluded. “She is amazing. I love when people don’t just complain about a problem. They come up with an idea to improve things and then take action.”
Elizondo says she just wants the side of the belt route to look a little more like where she’s been living for almost a year.
“My neighborhood is so quaint and so cute,” Elizondo gushes. “It is fabulously located. I can see the mountains. I will have the new (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) temple right by me (when construction is completed). It’s just a wonderful place to be. So, I want to do what I can to make the drive getting here a little more attractive also.” λ