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What’s needed on Greenway parks: trash barrels, better care from DCR

Park needs clean-up: Trash and debris piled up at Victory Road Park last weekend. Photo by Steve Bickerton, Jr.Park needs clean-up: Trash and debris piled up at Victory Road Park last weekend. Photo by Steve Bickerton, Jr.To The Editor:

This past weekend we were fortunate to have beautiful weather that allowed folks to get out and enjoy the Neponset River Greenway, one of the treasures of our community which connects Mattapan to Port Norfolk, and will have its missing links connected in the coming years to the tune of $14-plus million. I myself walked from Butler Street in Lower Mills to Port Norfolk. It was a great walk and I bumped into several Dorchester neighbors.

The overwhelming topic of conversation: The Greenway and the adjacent parks are a mess!

For some reason, the DCR removed almost all trash bins from Neponset River Park, Pope John Paul Park (PJP), and all of the Greenway entrances last fall. The few trash bins that remain are overflowing with trash, as they go for weeks without being emptied.

As a religious daily user of PJP, I have also seen piles of bags of dog waste pile up where the trash bins used to be. I snapped a picture of one of these piles and made the DCR aware of it several weeks ago. Their response? “Carry in/carry out.” That’s right; they want you to pick up after your dog, then take the feces home with you. Now I think I’m a pretty responsible dog owner, but taking Toby’s poop home with me is about where I draw the line.

I hope to use this letter to call attention to the need for two things: better maintenance of our DCR parks, and also dedicated off-leash areas for dogs, with plenty of trash receptacles. The “unofficial” dog park near the Gas Tank is in dire need of trash control and the parking lot looks as if it has been shelled by artillery fire. It would also be great to install a fence that separates that park from the expressway off-ramp. There is no off-leash location anywhere along the Greenway.

It’s important for the powers that be at DCR to understand that in an urban environment like Dorchester, many of us don’t have backyards, and use our local parks as such. We don’t expect manicured country club fairways, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to cut the grass regularly, supply and empty the trash cans as needed, and maybe fence in an area so we can let our dogs chase a ball without fear of the DCR rangers writing us a ticket. It’s a quality of life issue, and frankly, we pay for it.

I know that the DCR lost some funding last year, and I know that they experience a decrease in staff after the seasonal summer employees are gone, but if they cannot perform very basic, fundamental park maintenance, then something is really wrong, and we need our elected leaders to step in to help with more resources, or other creative solutions. I hope this letter brings some attention to these issues.

Thank you,
Steve Bickerton, Jr.
Popes Hill