City parks offer a great way to enjoy time outdoors and to spend time with family and friends. Unfortunately, the joy of spending time at a park can be negatively impacted when people fail to keep the park clean and safe for everyone to enjoy. As a park manager, there are several steps that can be taken to help keep the park looking great for everyone.
Step #1: Make Good Use of Recycling and Trash Receptacles
Perhaps the most important step to take toward keeping a park clean is to provide ample recycling and trash receptacles throughout the park. More receptacles should be placed near the areas where people are the most likely to congregate or to generate trash. Pavilions, concession stands and any other places where food will be served are particularly important areas for trash and recycling bins.
Step #2: Implement and Enforce Fines
Once the receptacles are in place, you can post signs throughout the park that encourage patrons to throw away their trash. Signs such as “Please Help Keep Our Park Clean” can serve as gentle reminders. To take it a step further, consider adding reminders that littering in the park is against the law and is punishable by fine. Of course, punishing by fine will do little to deter litterers if these fines are not enforced. Working closely with law enforcement to actively cite offenders will go a long way toward keeping your park clean.
Step #3: Maintain Staffing
Maintaining ample staffing is obviously something that is dependent upon your park’s budget. If possible, however, you should ensure the park is properly staffed with a regular cleaning schedule. In addition to emptying out trash and recycling receptacles, staff should be responsible for picking up trash that has not bee properly placed in a trash bin. Keeping the park clean should be a top priority for all staff members.
Step #4: Enlist in the Help of the Community
Getting the community involved with keeping the park clean is a great way to build civic pride while also keeping your facilities looking great. Contact volunteer groups to see if they would be willing to come to the park to clean on occasion. Hosting a “beautification day” is a great way to get volunteers to the park to help keep it looking great. You might even find a way to turn the effort into a competition with prizes given to those groups that collect the most trash.
Step #5: Prohibit Alcohol and Smoking
Cigarette butts and alcohol containers can become a serious problem in some parks. To help reduce the potential for litter, consider prohibiting both cigarettes and alcohol in your park. If making the park alcohol and cigarette-free is not possible, consider creating a designated section for alcohol and cigarettes and placing many trash receptacles in the area.
While taking these five steps does not guarantee a trash-free park, it will significantly reduce the amount of garbage cluttering the beauty and recreational opportunities your park has to offer.