2011-06-15 / Editorials

Keep Queens Parks Clean

In the past week, summer has asserted its presence several weeks early with grueling 80 to 100 degree days throughout Queens, drawing thousands of residents to local parks for their pools, leisure and sunbathing opportunities.

But while the weather may bring more possibilities for outdoor activities, it also leads to increased pollution. The sudden flow of population outdoors leads to dropped and discarded ice cream and hot dog wrappers, bottles, cans and other litter that harm the environment and make for a less favorable destination.

It’s important to keep in mind that while litter affects the environment all year round, the increased heat of the season causes garbage to rot quickly and stink up the parks that are supposed to be a clean, naturethemed escape from the city pollution.

Residents should take note of trash and recycle bins in all outdoor areas prior to dumping their garbage and be sure to take part in keeping our parks clean. Those who are interested in going the extra mile can also partake in park cleanups hosted throughout the year, such as the Early Bird Cleanup taking place in Astoria Park at 7:30 a.m. on July 5, which aims to help restore the park to its naturally clean state after the festivities of the Fourth of July the night before.

Still, these opportunities are not enough to keep up with the trash left behind every day. Those who frequent Astoria Park know that the river’s shore hosts a plethora of plastic, bottles, cans, wrappers and other manmade items carelessly tossed into the water, both by those on boats and along the riverside path that stretches throughout the park. Even large pieces of litter such as whole parking meters and abandoned beach chairs have been found in the water, all taking part in dirtying the river and the area surrounding it. Glass is often found shattered across the ground, dangerously close to the play areas intended to provide safe exercise for children.

Astoria Park is only one of the beautiful parks suffering in Queens. To name just a few more of the many, there is also Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Forest Park, Cunningham Park, Kissena Park, Alley Pond Park and Juniper Valley Park.

Parks are an important part of any city, especially heavily urbanized ones like New York. They provide a place for residents to take in fresh air, exercise and eat, as well as skate and swim in designated areas. Their trees act as much-needed filters for the air, taking in the pollution emitted by cars and public transportation and releasing fresh oxygen. Some even hold rich pieces of history, such as Alley Pond Park, which houses the oldest living organism to date: the “Queens Giant”, a 134-foot tall Tulip Poplar. There is no reason to allow such vital parts of the community to be destroyed.

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