Trash at Herring Run Park, Baltimore, MD

Two blocks from my house is Herring Run Park, a beautiful city park, designed by Frederick Olmstead & his brother. For a number of years the park has held soccer tournaments on Sundays along Chesterfield Avenue. The fields are filled w/ teams and fans all day long–and this is great, except that the fields are covered in trash. And the teams and their fans simply leave all this trash that they’ve generated. Sometimes there is a kind of concerted effort to amass the trash into a central pile where it is easier to be picked up. But the crows and local dogs make short work of opening the bags & redistributing the trash, not to mention the raccoons, deer, possum, etc. It’s a big park. But anyway, more often then not, the trash is simply left along the sidelines of the fields.

Two weeks ago, Herring Run held its annual park clean up day, and it was a great effort & the park was shiny & new for about 24 hours, and then the soccer teams came and when they left it was the same old mess. So I wrote a letter to Parks & Recreation:

This email was sent last Monday, 4/12/10

To Whom it May Concern:

On Saturday the 10th of April, Herring Run Park held its annual clean-up day. By Sunday afternoon, after the soccer games had concluded, the rear field along Chesterfield Ave. was littered all along the sidelines with plastic water bottles, chip bags, cvs bags, etc.

This is not an unusual sight. Often the soccer fields, the areas that receive the most attention from park maintenance, are the most littered, even while having more trash barrels then in other areas of the park. And this happens year after year. The same disregard for the beauty of the park, and for the others who share this space. It is unbelievable that those who run this league can’t keep their own players from covering the sidelines with trash, and that they could walk away from these games in full view of the trash they have just strewn over the field. But they do it week after week.

How is it that they they are allowed, tacitly or otherwise, by the city to continue trashing the fields where they play? There are signs in the park that detail fines for littering, yet this seemingly sanctioned littering occurs all during the soccer season, which I think runs from spring through fall. Add to that the summer weekend parties in the parking area and you have some serious trash problems, effectively making those signs detailing littering fines a joke.

The city could be making some serious money in the park just by fining the flagrant violations that are going on as I write this. HELP!

Thanks for your attention.

I received a notice from Parks & Rec.: I have forwarded your email to all concerned w/soccer programs and field use in our Youth and Adult Office (410-396-6136)

Sincerely, Susan Williams, Recreation and Parks

Today is Tuesday  the 20th and I haven’t heard from anyone else. So I wrote again & included pictures:

Dear Parks & Recreation,

Last week I sent a letter telling you about the soccer fields & the trash left behind. Today I went down and took pictures of the debris left behind in the field, and also I took pictures of the trash cans located along the fields on Chesterfield Ave.

I received a follow-up email telling me that my letter had been forwarded to the Youth & Adult Office, and I have heard nothing further, so I called Youth & Adult Services & Permits. I’ve learned that that the field usage costs $15.00 an hour, and that clean-up fees are not included. This is a huge mistake, because as it stands now no one is responsible for the trash, other than regular trash pick-up, which seems to be hit & miss (as you can see from the pictures I took this morning). Further, this city is hurting, this is a way to generate income. These soccer teams are there all day long, and they are trashing the fields. Why not increase the usage fees to include trash removal costs. Or better yet, stipulate from the get go that the fields are to be maintained by the individual teams. And if the fields are kept clean, there doesn’t need to be an additional fee for trash clean up.

So, here’s hoping that something will happen to change this situation. I’m in the process of finding out what the fees are like in Baltimore County for soccer fields, because $15.00 an hour seems inexpensive. Baltimore is a poor city with so many problems that it seems hopeless at times. There is crime and apathy, and trash everywhere. It looks as though we simply don’t care. And maybe we don’t, but over here in my little corner of the world I would like to change things. I can’t make every kid in Baltimore pick up after themselves, but maybe I can get a soccer team to pick up the water bottles they brought with them.

And maybe the coach of the team can find it in his heart to ask his fans to pick up the cups they brought instead of just leaving them on the sidelines.

Anyone from Baltimore who might read this, please contact Parks & Rec. & ask them to address this issue. And I will keep addressing it here.


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