I’m not talkng about goose poop. And I’m certainly not looking to point any fingers, but with Green Week coming…
…I think we can all agree that the litter in our parks is out of hand.
I’ll start by admitting that my friends and family quickly get to the word "messy" when describing me. I’ve had a pair of muddy shoes sitting outside my apartment for nearly a week. The keyboard on my computer is full of crumbs. The burners on the stove are caked with traces of dinners past. And my car? I have no idea where to start.
So if the trash in our parks is making me stop in my tracks, it must be pretty serious.
One of my favorite running routes starts in Mamaroneck’s Harbor Island Park, cuts through Orienta and Hampshire Country Club, and brings me to the Hommocks Conservation Area. From there I like to follow the Waterfront Nature Walk, skirt through Flint Park and wind my way through the beautiful back roads to Manor Park in Larchmont. The final leg takes me past "Red Bridge," up to Boston Post Road, and into Five Islands Park in New Rochelle before I turn back around.
The water views along the way are breathtaking (and not just because I’m out of shape). The people are friendly. The traffic is minimal. The parks are full of beautiful trees, blooming flowers and green grass. Just don’t look down for long.
Because it’s not just water, water everywhere.
Harbor Island Park is a 44-acre area referred to as the "Jewel of Mamaroneck." It’s almost always full of activity, including boating, swimming, kite-flying, soccer, tennis and fishing. There’s no barbecuing, picnicking, dogs or geese-feeding allowed, and there are ample trash bins throughout. As well as ample trash.
Hommocks Conservation Area is a 10-acre piece of land comprised of woodland, salt marsh and meadow areas. A trash bin sits in the parking area just before you get to a walkway that loops you out toward the water. In the reeds below sits every kind of bottle and can imaginable.
Flint Park, the primary recreational park in the Village of Larchmont, features soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, a picnic area and a playground. It is teeming with garbage bins and signs asking visitors to "Enjoy the Park" and "Help Keep it Clean." Just a few steps away from one such sign? You guessed it, a collection of empty bottles and cans.
Manor Park, a 13-acre area with 5,000 feet of Long Island shoreline, is privately owned but open to the public. It greets its visitors with a sign that reads "As you enjoy the park, please keep in mind the following: Dogs must be leashed and waste picked up. Picnicking, blankets, food and beverages are not permitted. Use radio, tape and CD players with earphones only. Please no ball playing or frisbees, biking, skating or scooters, fishing, boating or swimming. No commercial activity or wedding photography without prior written permission. Manor Park is open from dawn to dusk." Perhaps by limiting the allowed activities, Manor Park seems to be the cleanest park around. But even it is far from immaculate. On this morning, as I approach a gazebo, there is more evidence of people ignoring the signs: three empty cans of Keystone Light.
Five Islands Park in New Rochelle covers 15 acres and offers just about everything, including barbecuing, picnicking, sunbathing and fishing. It doesn’t allow golf, but a trail of golf balls begins 13 strides from a sign saying so. Next to a sign that says "No alcoholic beverages" is a pile of empty beer cans. Within tossing distance of a garbage can are four plastic cups; at the foot of a bench are two discarded socks.
I don’t have an answer, so I’ll pose a question:
Spring cleaning, anyone?