Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Confession: I am removing evidence from a crime scene

Rene, the Park Manager told me that he would have two more of the large trash bags I left off the trail in the woods disposed of. It takes me 3 or 4 visits to the park to fill one of those bags. There are other places in the park I leave garbage also, so this just amounts to the trash collected from the portion of the woods near the tennis courts on Forest Park South. In those bags are many plastic bags, the containers for coffee and food eaten in the woods, some beverage containers, and a lot of cigar wrappers. That portion of the  trash takes up about 15 % of the volume in a bag. The 85% remaining consists of  beer and other alcohol containers. I would guess conservatively, there are on average, a hundred and twenty beer containers in each bag. Now, many of them are the quart size containers, so there is an enormous amount of beer consumed in this part of the  park.Why do I say "I'm removing evidence from a crime scene"? I'm willing to bet that all of the vandalism that occurs in the park is a direct result of illegal drinking in the woods. The police call it the "broken window theory". One relatively small crime which leads to others. Since I've been involved with the park these past three years, I have seen the destruction of every sign park officials erected, the bat houses which were placed behind the pond, and the three or four "ice ladders" which are put there for safety each winter. A large laminated sign detailing the kind of wildlife at the pond was also torn loose from its mooring and thrown in the water. There have been at least three fires that I know of. And of course,broken glass is everywhere. Add to that, the other trash that accompanies the broken bottles and cans and you can readily see why I never have a day where there isn't some garbage to be disposed of. Never! There are areas in the woods that were empty a year ago and now take two or three visits to empty of bottles of malt liquor, beer, gin and vodka. What does this say of our generation that we tolerate our youngsters getting drunk unchecked every weekend in a city park? I realize the police and urban rangers can't patrol the woods nightly, but can nothing else be done? Most of the alcohol comes from two all night delicatessens, one on Jamaica Avenue and one on Woodhaven Boulevard. Those establishments sell the same size cans, bottles and brands I find and remove. Can't the police visit these places and warn the owners of the consequences of selling alcohol to minors?  And, what is going on with the parents of these budding alcoholics? These are middle class neighborhoods. You parents don't care if your children consume alcohol in the park? There is a $1,000 fine for littering in the park. Carrying and consuming alcoholic beverages in the woods can be a misdemeanor. Something like that on your kid's record can mean not getting into college, the Armed Services or a job. Nowadays, everything you do stays on your record. I will get the local police involved. As a fellow parent, I ask  the parents of these individuals to talk to your kids. I'm turning myself in. I am guilty of removing hundreds of bags of evidence.