02 December 2014

Public Disrespect Apparent During Park Visits

During several outings on the two days after Thanksgiving, there were several instances where a person's activity within an east Omaha parks showed disrespect, or in one instances was actually illegal. Otherwise, the activity may have been causing an unwarranted impact upon public green space.

This is a rundown of what was noted, either on November 28th or 29th, 2014.

Carter Lake
» The usual trash and scattered tires, but which is actually nothing atypical. It was undoubtedly too early on Friday morning for the usual antics to have yet gotten underway.
Hummel Park
» During a hike along the trails on the north side, more than two small plastic bags of cans were removed. A few of them were along the nature trail, but most of them were associated with the disc golf course. At one place along the course, instead of discarding the cans where they could be easily picked up, they were thrown over onto the hillside where the slope is so steep that it would be dangerous to retrive them. Most were cans from energy drinks or beer, the latter being illegal to drink in Omaha parks.
» Also associated with the disc course, there were at least two spots were small fires had occurred or been attempted. At one place, several trees had been scorched. It is not legal to have open fires within a city park.
» Worse of all, is the condition of the disc course fairways. They are barren dirt, with no ground cover to prevent erosion. Eventually there will be erosion problems. There also appeared to be further encroachment into the neighboring woods to widen the fairway beyond what had been previously allowed by Parks officials. Conditions associated with the disc course continue to worsen.
N.P. Dodge Park
» Along the eastern edge at the Missouri River, men were hunting waterfowl. The four guys were packing up and leaving when my bird hike reached this point later in the morning. Gear and guys filled the boat to an extent where its license number was obscured. Later, the hunters were seen leaving the nearby boat ramp parking lot, driving a black pickup with a license plate from either Douglas, Sarpy or Lancaster county.
» At the same spot, there was a hunting blind in place, partially covered with branches which had been cut from nearby. Ironically, a sign within the blind said "Private Property" so the owner of the thing thought he could place a something private on public property and think that he could keep others out.
» It is illegal to hunt in Omaha parks.
Mandan Park and Mandan Flats
» Gay men trolling for some action at the park. They are obvious as they drive through, or park and look around for a hookup, as this place has a reputation for this sort of activity. Upon my arrival, as usual on past times, there is a quick jaunt into the woods to get away from the roadside scene.
» Some sort of city-associated fill activity has occurred on the flats, as indicated by "fresh-looking" sediment control measures. The north portion of this area east of the park was barren of plants, and it appeared the fill had already occurred. Although the flats are not part of the park, the area is public property, apparently controlled by Public Works. The habitat along the river always has some interesting birds that contribute to the variety of avifauna in the area.
Spring Lake Park
» Destruction of hundreds of trees was well underway, for the "so-called" improvements associated with the CSO! project, as designed and being implemented by the Public Works department. Nothing illegal here, but of obvious interest to the neighborhood. Remaining at the big cut, were dozens of tires which supposedly were going to be removed, but still remain despite a few requests to the mayor of Omaha and the city council representative for the district.
Memorial Park
» Typical numbers of dogs running around and not on a leash. All dogs are required to be on a leash, according to a City of Omaha ordinance.
» The usual walker was present — with his dog on a leash — picking up trash as he does on a regular, nearly daily basis, and for which he has and should continue to receive accolades.
Elmwood Park
» A dangerous situation was discovered upon noticing a youth hacking away at some trees. During a brief conversation about how this destruction needed to be stopped, and that the saw needed to be put away, and cutting is not something to do to trees in the park, etc. Suddenly another pre-teen climbed out of a cave in the nearby, street-side embankment. The guy was a bit shorter than five feet, so the cave had to be of some larger size so he could disappear inside. They explained that they did not dig the cave. When asked what he would do if the bank collapsed and buried him, the reply was: "I'll call someone." Apparently he had not thought through how it would not be possible to call anyone if buried. This cave is located just east of the main entrance to the park, and is certainly a hazard that needs to be filled.
» South of Shadow Lake, a private landowner adjacent to the park has taken a portion of the woods to create a personal play space, north of back fence of their yard. The grass is mown and there are toys sitting around. A woman and three small children were seen at the place.
» Nearby, a "fort" was partially demolished. Associated with this dome made of sticks, as initially stabilized by pulled over live saplings (causing their nearly total destruction) was trash and graffiti. Written on one log were the words "Weed Angels" with another log having the curse word "f_ _k" as spray-painted with more than the required number of the letter u. Other sorts of spray-paint markings occurred on at least a half-dozen trees. There was another discussion here with the two pre-teens and another youth of a similar age, discussing the fort and what the people that built it have done to the site, including the already mentioned problems. The gist: forts that lead to these sorts of park ruination by those associated with them, should not continue to occur.
» Down the slope, a couple and their infant sat on the primary log of the graffiti grotto. Several trees here have multi-colored markings which have been created over a long period of time. The nearby underpass has its own mix of graffiti.
» At and near the grotto and bridge over Wood Creek — where three photographic sessions were underway — one of the women taking photographs was spraying fake snow on a bush to apparently add a wintry touch. When told this was vandalism to park vegetation, she said she would remove it, since her kit included some other sort of thing to do so.
» There were unleashed dogs elsewhere.

Parks Disrespect

This tally is indicative of the lack of respect which many visitors give to parks, as well as a lack of focus which allows these activities to occur, once and again, and again.

Illegal activities actually noted or indicated, in summary, were:

  1. Littering
  2. Drinking alcohol in a park
  3. Open fires within a park
  4. Hunting on park property
  5. Vandalism to park trees and shrubs
  6. Graffiti on park trees and facilities
  7. Dogs not on a leash

It is a sorry condition when parks get this sort of treatment. Obviously the more people present, the more prevalent will be miscreants.

Many other people were appreciating the parks and being outdoors on a late-November Saturday when temperature reaching the mid-60s, with light winds. It was very nice to be among the green, enjoying the birdly wonders.

At least a dozen pounds of aluminum cans were picked up — one-by-one — during these outings, and were then recycled.

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