Photo Courtesy of Queens Crap
According to one neighbor, rotted fruit, flowers, and discarded religious items are a constant presence along Charles Park and in Jamaica Bay.
By Michael V. Cusenza
It seems that a decades-old problem has revisited the sands of Frank M. Charles Memorial Park and the adjacent waters of Jamaica Bay.
Howard Beach residents this week ripped religious groups that regularly use the federal beach space for not being good neighbors and cleaning up after themselves following ritual ceremonies.
“This land is under National Park Service control and they claim they can’t stop it because it’s a freedom of religion issue,” a man who only provided the name “Rich” wrote to borough blog Queens Crap. “[The groups] dump into the water all kinds of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and food. On land they also leave behind statues, pictures and reams of cloth flags…I think if NPS is going to allow this the they should clean the beach more often; nobody [should be] on a beach with rotten fruit and it is bad for the health of the water and the animals that need a healthy environment to live.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the post received nearly two-dozen comments, with the vast majority agreeing with Rich.
Commenter JQ LLC wrote, in part, “This has been going on for years…Just because you have the divine right to worship and practice your religion doesn’t exempt you from making a disgusting mess of the beaches around these parks, which are small to begin with. It really shows an obnoxious sense of entitlement.”
Charles Park and Jamaica Bay are part of the federal Gateway National Recreation Area, and are operated by the U.S. National Park Service.
“Gateway has increased the presence of both park rangers and U.S. Park Police officers at sites such as the North Channel Bridge and Frank Charles Park to interact with our visitors and educate them about the importance of the ‘leave no trace’ ethic, where visitors are expected to take away whatever items they bring to a site to minimize impacts to the environment as well as the experience of other visitors. The park has also increased its community outreach with religious groups in the area to promote this idea, which has been met with a very positive reception,” NPS spokeswoman Daphne Yun told The Forum on Tuesday. “Gateway works with all of our park visitors to emphasize the importance of keeping our environment clean and to create a new generation of park stewards. In addition to the daily maintenance by the staff at North Channel Bridge and Frank Charles Park, the park has many cleanups scheduled for this fall. We welcome any volunteers who would like to join these or host their own cleanups.”