by Corey Johns.
Saturday, April 13, was my birthday and the way I choose to celebrate was by having my friends help with a park cleanup at Cox’s Point Park in Essex. For a few hours my friends and I picked up potato chip bags, cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, soda bottle caps, plastic straws, aluminum cans, plastic bottles – you name it, we picked it up. It was a tremendous day and we all felt we made a big difference by cleaning up this beautiful park.
We wrapped up around 2:00 feeling great and started to pack up, but by 2:30, I left the park feeling very discouraged.
After my party, a couple other parties started at the park. One was a birthday party and they were wrapping streamers around trees. I did not stick around to see if they took those down, but I’m sure the streamer rolls they threw high up in the tree branches were not taken down.
At least that was paper, which will break down and biodegrade.
I also saw a group using a grill across the park, and the party before them must have left aluminum foil on the grill plates. The new party just threw the foil on the ground and let the wind blow it away rather than throwing it in the garbage can.
However, the worst thing I saw as I was leaving was a group that was having an Easter egg hunt. As they were getting ready for it they dumped out a lot of little toys, every single one of them wrapped in plastic wrappers, to put in the different plastic Easter eggs. The adults simply unwrapped the little toys and did not make sure those wrappers were put in the trash. I watched probably 100 wrappers blow away around the park, this after I gave them trash bags, told them I just had a park cleanup and asked them to make sure they pick up all of their trash.
I left my own exciting birthday celebration upset, but a while later I realized what I was upset most about. The park itself had nobody there patrolling, telling people to clean up their own mess, or if necessary, fining those who completely disregarded littering laws and let plastic wrappers fly all around the park because they did not pay any mind to them.
Full disclosure: I was recently named to the Baltimore County Board of Recreation and Parks as the at-large commissioner by County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. It was so recent I have not even been to a meeting yet, but I promise you this, I will immediately be sharing this story with the other members and do everything I can to make sure the person who was scheduled to be patrolling the park is actually there and patrolling and making sure people are not littering with no regard.
Cox’s Point Park especially is a park that has to be kept clean. It is a peninsula sticking out in Back River; everything in the park can make its way into the water within minutes even with a slight breeze, and from there, directly into our treasured Chesapeake Bay. Its cleanliness, and all of our parks’ cleanliness, must be prioritized more.