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Litter, Graffiti at Borough Parks Troubles Residents

The borough has tried to curb the problem through various means, but has been largely unsuccessful at deterring violators.

It's not unusual on summer mornings to find empty bottles, cigarette butts and used condoms littering the grounds at any number of the Fair Lawn parks that serve as late night hangouts for area teens.

Disgusted residents have brought the issue to the borough's attention on multiple occasions, borough manager Tom Metzler said. While each complaint is taken seriously and addressed, finding a permanent solution to the problem has proven elusive.

The borough has tried discouraging kids from hanging at parks after hours by turning off field lights and emphasizing police and auxiliary police checks, but there isn't a whole lot that can be done to curb the problem short of having a police officer sit at the park all night long, Metzler said.

Parks Department crews take the issue personally and try to hit every one of the parks to clean up litter and graffiti on a daily basis, but they don't always arrive in time to spare residents from the sight of the previous night's carnage.

Community volunteers whose organizations adopt parks to clean on a regular basis have at times found them in "horrible" condition.

"Diapers, wipes, water bottle, food and containers, condoms and cigarette butts are the most common things around," an email to Patch from one volunteer reads. "Between one week and the next, 3 swings were broken and unusable, and other equipment was defaced."

The volunteer said he didn't blame the town, but rather the people who use the park and fail to take care of it.

"One of our members asked a litterer why she didn't clean up after herself, and the response was, roughly, 'Well...the town cleans up so I don't have to.'" he said. "It's crazy that some people seem to have lost their ability to take responsibility for themselves and pride in the community."

While there is no denying that littering and vandalism at the parks takes place, both Metzler and Sgt. Richard Schultz said it has been no worse this year than in years past. In fact, Schultz said the problem has improved significantly since his early days on the force in the 1980s and '90s.

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Tommy P September 20, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Its just kids being kids, it has nothing to do with the ineptitude of our government.
Lakeland63 September 20, 2012 at 06:51 PM
What kind of tresponse is this, "While there is no denying that littering and vandalism at the parks takes place, both Metzler and Sgt. Richard Schultz said it has been no worse this year than in years past." Fair Lawn residents and taxpayers deserve better. Totally agree with MJM, town should be proactive. Curfew, Carry In and Carry out, Summonses, are just a few things to discourage this poor behavior so everyone can enjoy the parks.
OOKK September 20, 2012 at 07:03 PM
ive lived in fair lawn my whole life (37 years), there was trash and graffiti when i was a kid, there is now, and the alway will be. curfews and dumb stuff like that will not work, the only thing to slow this down is parenting. if kids are raised to treat people and property with respect they dont behave like this. however there will always be parents who dont raise their kids right so this problem will continue.
Jenne September 21, 2012 at 04:57 PM
*Snort* there have been obscene graffiti at the Memorial and Walsh playgrounds for over 3 years. At the beginning of the pool season, there were literally iron rods sticking 6-8" out of the 'bridge' on the Memorial playground. If they are cleaning up on a regular basis, good, but it sure isn't daily-- maybe weekly at best. We need to all clean up after ourselves and also pick up a few random pieces of trash when we see it.
Honey Kleinberg September 23, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Disgusted As a volunteer that has cleaned Berdan Grove once a month since the playground was first put in, here are some of my observations. 1. It's not kids leaving dirty diapers and diaper wipes on the ground. 2. Its not teenagers, but the adults that bring their young children to the playground that allow these youngsters to leave dixi cup spoons and 4 oz juice drinks on the playground. 3. It is the adults using the tennis courts, that remember to take their tennis balls but leave their bottles and empty ball cans for us to clean. It may teenagers, but surly adults too that think it is fine to open their car window and empty their cigarette ashtray on the ground when a garbage can is right in front of their car. I could go on about those that use the basketball court and the ball fields, but I have to leave for park cleanup at 9 so I have to close for now. My take, any and all violatetors found littering anywhere in Fair Lawn should be forced to spend a certain amount of hours cleaning up after everyone else, whether they are residents or visitors of this town or not.

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