Will a new NYC Parks Department initiative keep the ‘Riviera of the Bronx’ any cleaner?
As the much-awaited warm weather continues, Orchard Beach is once again welcoming toes on its sand.
But along with the million bathers that will frequent the beach this year will be tons and tons of garbage: dirty baby diapers, water bottles, empty beer containers and rotting, half-eaten food.
“Nobody throws anything away at the beach any more. People drink and eat and leave their garbage on the sand as if a busboy is going to come around to pickup after them,” said one beachgoer. “It’s like the garbage cans are there for display. I saw someone change a diaper on the sand and just leave it there to float out into the water, and that’s not even half of the stuff that washes out from the shore,” another beachgoer added.
The same sun worshipper has also seen a large influx of glass bottles left behind that eventually end up buried under the sand. “People step on these buried bottles and cut their feet all the time, and if the bottles that don’t get kicked under sand they just end up floating into the water,” the beach lover said.
The only message in these bottles and other trash is that people aren’t picking up after themselves and it’s becoming both a problem and an eyesore.
The NYC Parks Department is aware of the problem.
In an effort to encourage the beach users to clean up after themselves this new season, Parks is implementing some new changes with trash disposal.
“We are experimenting with a new trash management approach at Orchard Beach by placing all trash cans on the boardwalk as opposed to directly on the sand,” said a spokesperson for Parks.
“The hope is that this will encourage people to carry their garbage off the beach. This approach also allows our staff to empty trash cans faster. We are also installing orange banners near trash bins to direct beach goers,” the spokesperson added.
While Parks is hopeful that this policy will encourage those on the beach to cleanup after themselves, other beachgoers are skeptical.
“Nothing is going to change. The trash cleanup policy didn’t work when the cans were on the beach. So why would people that already aren’t walking a few feet to a trash can now be inspired to walk back to the boardwalk?” said the perplexed beachgoer. “The best bet to fixing this issue is more cans in more places, not less,” they added.
Michael Torres has called Soundview his home and Orchard Beach his stomping ground for over 30 years.
He’s personally seen people at the beach take an apathetic approach to cleaning up after themselves.
“Orchard Beach always had issues with trash, especially in the water, all over the park and the basketball courts. The park has improved in recent years but it is a long way off compared to other areas in city,” said Torres. “I’ve seen some disgusting stuff float out into that water honestly. People joke around that no one goes in the water because if you go in, your bathing suit will be dissolved, from the things that float out there. I’m starting to wonder whether that’s a joke,” Torres added.