June 18 2020 By Michael Dorgan
An unprecedented number of people are using the waterfront parks in Hunters Point and they are generating lots of trash and making plenty of noise.
The good weather and the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions has seen people flock to Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park this month.
More people have also opted to eat and drink at the park due to the continued ban on indoor dining. These factors – coupled with an influx of food trucks and vendors lining up along Center Boulevard – have produced high levels of trash, according to the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy (HPPC).
“People can’t go anywhere else and cannot eat at restaurants,” said Rob Basch, president of the HPPC. He said that there aren’t enough trash cans for people to properly dispose of their trash.
People are placing their rubbish next to overflowing bins causing the trash to pile up, he said.
“The rubbish then gets blown across the parks by strong winds and often ends up in the East River,” he said.
Basch said the situation is also drawing rats to the area and is very unhygienic.
The volunteer group, which helps out with park maintenance and organizes various park programs, has called on the public to play its part in keeping the parks clean.
“We have launched a ‘leave no trace’ campaign which appeals to visitors who bring food and disposables to the park, to take them home and dispose of them if bins are full,” he said.
NYC Parks is responsible for waste disposal at Hunters Point South Park while New York State Parks takes care of the garbage for Gantry Plaza State Park. Their budgets have been cut and they cannot keep up with collection needs at the parks, according to Basch.
Basch said that the set-up is not ideal and he would like to see the Department of Sanitation oversee waste disposal for both parks in the long term.
There is also a significant lack of bins at both parks which has exacerbated the problem, Basch said.
HPPC has just spent $24,000 on purchasing four “Bigbelly” garbage cans to address the problem.
The smart, solar-powered waste and recycling cans compact the waste and communicate volume status to collection crews. However, the units are not expected to arrive for another four to six weeks.
Basch said that the two parks never close and some crowds stay late into the night and generate even more trash.
The nighttime visitors also contribute to high levels of noise pollution and some have been known to set off fireworks, he said.
People driving cars with loud mufflers and high revving motorcyclists have also drawn ire from local residents living in the mostly residential, built-up area.
Drivers of three-wheeled motor vehicles, which play loud music, have also contributed to increased noise pollution in the area, according to Basch.
Basch said that there have also been numerous complaints about drag car racing in the area at nighttime.
“They are causing general mayhem and are reckless,” he said.