With the arrival of spring and summer, parks are often one of the few places to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, too often, parks become littered with garbage, filled with hazards, or vandalized by users who do not take responsibility for their actions. But there are ways that the community can help keep their local parks clean and healthy for year-round enjoyment.
Everyday Maintenance and Notifications
Parks are available for everyone to use and enjoy at their leisure. For this reason, it is important for the grounds to be kept clean and safe at all times. By picking up after yourself, reporting noticeable damage, or any unlawful activities to park officials, the park can remain a beautiful social meeting location for folks to gather.
Pickup After Yourself and Your Party - Always be responsible with the belongings you bring to the park (this includes trash). If you find your napkin or paper plate blowing away, be sure to retrieve it. Never leave trash on the ground, on picnic tables, or in the parks. Discard any garbage in the appropriate bin. If available, it is also essential to take advantage of recycling bins. It is crucial to properly dispose of anything that could potentially be harmful to the environment, local wildlife, or fellow users such as glass, cans, batteries, dirty diapers, dog waste, etc. With everyone doing their part and picking up after themselves the park will remain a more enjoyable place to visit!
Report All Needed Repairs - All playground equipment and landscape in disrepair or present safety concerns, should be reported immediately to avoid harm to users. This may include playsets, swings, slides, picnic tables, benches, and down branches and trees. Trash cans should be emptied on a routine basis and bathrooms, lights, and water fountains should also be in clean, working order. Park officials should be notified to make sure everything is cleaned up and that any damage is addressed.
Report Any Suspicious Activity or Vandalism - A community takes great pride in its parks and will supply resources and tax dollars in preserving its beauty and functionality. However, there are individuals that may feel the need to cause damage for their own satisfaction. To maintain a local park from vandalism, park officials should take a comprehensive approach to address the issue. It’s important to ensure that the park is well-lit and monitored by security personnel both during the day and at night to deter possible vandals. This can be done possibly by having reliable security systems in place at the park’s entrances, including motion-activated cameras, and regularly patrolling the park by local police officers or security guards. Additionally, they can also create strict rules and regulations to ensure that visitors are respecting the park’s conditions. Not only will the park be safer but the visitors will feel safer as well.
Community Cleanup Day: A Fun Solution For A Great Cause
Even if everyone cleans up after themselves, the park is in good repair, and the vandalism is nonexistent, there may still be a lot of work to be done to keep the park grounds clean. The outdoor elements such as sun, wind, and rain will cause their own mess of things. The playground set will need to be washed, leaves will need to be raked up, mulch will need to be replaced, mold and mildew will need to be removed, and the list goes on. This is a big job. Too big in fact for one grounds’ keeper to handle. And some cities may not have the available funds to keep up with such an important task. This is where the residents can take charge and do something great for their own community!
Implement a community cleanup day at least once a year where community members and residents come together to pick up litter, wipe down park furniture, provide small fixes or services (such as pressure washing), and maintain the park's beauty. Community cleanup days are not only beneficial for the environment, but they also help to build a sense of pride among community members and help to bring people together. Not to mention fun!
Pitch the idea to your local city government or other organizations and explain exactly what the cleanup day involves, from identifying potentially hazardous materials such as glass and metal to collecting plastic bottles and paper. Many organizations, such as local businesses, non-profits, and charities, may be interested in sponsoring or partnering with the event to help promote funds or volunteer to make it successful. Local schools, churches, or other organizations can also be helpful to recruit volunteers such as students, community members, or employees for the community day cleanup. Social media and news organizations are great forms of advertising to promote the community cleanup day and reach more helping hands. Be sure to inform them of the schedule, the cleanup supplies that will be provided, and what safety measures will be taken during the event.
Make it fun! The more people enjoy the community cleanup, the more successful it will be each passing year. Make the event enjoyable by playing music, providing snacks and drinks, and hosting a BBQ. Have someone document the event with photos and videos, and give volunteers and participants a chance to share their experience.
By taking these steps, the community can help ensure their local park is kept clean and healthy, providing a safe and enjoyable place for all to enjoy. Park officials and guests alike, should work to cultivate positive relationships with their residents and community organizations, which can help to create a sense of ownership and accountability for the park. Additionally, these organizations can work to engage park-goers and coordinate programs to help create an active and vibrant community of park-goers that can help reduce the potential for vandalism.