Park visitors leave a mess behind - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Park visitors leave a mess behind

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May 8, 2006

Albany -- On most days, Albany's Riverfront park is enjoyed by hundreds of people, from school groups picnickers to kids playing in Turtle Grove Park.

That's good news for tourism, but visitors are leaving behind a big mess. And Dougherty County has a hard time keeping the park clean.

Renee Gordon started visiting Riverfront Park after her son Bradley was born. "It's beautiful, it's breezy," she said.

She enjoys the view from the park swings. "It's very clean and it's a nice environment," said Gordon.

But you might see a much different view if you walk through the park at 10:30 in the morning and then visit again later that afternoon. "They probably didn't realize how many people would visit and that there would be large amounts of trash," said Facilities Director Roy Downs.

Downs says even on slow days, you can see trash left over from lunches and overflowing garbage cans. Most of it comes from large school groups who eat lunch at the park during field trips.

Downs says, "When they get through with their lunch, they just stacks it by the nearest trash receptacle which of course will not hold it."

That trash scatters fast. And even though the county recently added 18 more trash cans, some people don't even bother to use them. All the trash must be hauled off each day. "We have no large dumpster or access to a dumpster, which makes it difficult. And if we placed on out here, it would be a tremendous eye sore."

The County spends $150,000 a year to manage the park. And they have a $82,000 contract with "With Perfection" landscaping to pick up garbage and keep the grounds. They collect trash each morning, more for special events.

But the County's responsibility ends at the Greenway Trail, where you can find a pile of bricks. "It actually belongs to ATI. They are supposed to use some of it in the near future."

ATI must clean up the Greenway trail, and you won't find many trash can along the way. Downs says the County will continue doing its part but he says visitors must help by throwing away their trash, even if that means walking a ways to find another empty receptacle.

You might have noticed the dead grass at the park, too. The County is currently planting Bermuda grass which grows better in high traffic areas. ATI used an out-of-town landscaper when building the park. He used a centipede grass which doesn't grow well in direct sunlight.

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