Forum photos courtesy of the Gateway Stripers Club
The Gateway Stripers Club pulled in their lines over the weekend and toiled along the garbage-strewn shoreline and surrounding areas in Charles Park on Saturday.
By Patricia Adams
Waiting for a bite from the ever-allusive striped bass along the shore at Frank M. Charles Memorial Park can sometimes leave a persistent fisherman with little else to do but stand and wait.
That’s why Gateway Stripers Club member John Shanks says he has plenty of time to look around and just listen.
“We come to this place for love of the sport and because it’s so close to home,” he added.
But Shanks said that looking around and seeing all the litter and debris is frustrating and disheartening. Equally distasteful is the commentary the fishermen are close enough to hear from passersby along the beach or just on a stroll through the park.
“It’s the same old story, day after day,” Shanks observed. “People are sick and tired of seeing such a beautiful park cluttered with garbage. They talk about seniors having to step over things and worry about what their pets might pick up.”
That’s when Shanks decided to “take the fish by the fins” and do something about it. He shared what he’d been hearing with his fellow anglers, and the Gateway Stripers Club members decided unanimously to pitch in and put together a clean-up.
They contacted Dr. Joseph Campisi of the Charles Park Conservation Society, whose mission is to beautify the only green space available to the community. Campisi jumped on board and the 23-member group organized the clean-up event.
On Saturday, the club members traded in their rods and reels for boots and gloves and collected nearly three-dozen contractor bags full of garbage and debris.
Resident Phil Acosta, who walks his two dogs at the park twice a day, was just one of the many nearby residents to give the group a well-deserved thumbs up.
“I remember the way this park used to be before it started getting abused by groups who come in here from outside this community and destroy our beautiful park,” he said.
Acosta added he had to take one of his dogs to the vet last year and the pup narrowly missed having to undergo surgery after she picked up part of a coconut shell that tore into her intestines.
“These guys are great to do this. It kind of restores your faith in people—these days that’s almost like a miracle,” Acosta said.
At the end of the day, the fine fishermen were treated to a lunch supplied by Dr. Campisi’s brother, Vincent, who owns Cross Bay Bait and Tackle on the boulevard.
“It’s a great feeling to know that something so simple can make such a difference,” organizer Shanks noted.
He’s hoping to overhear residents talking about how good the park looks now.
“That would really be great,” Shanks said, and with a big smile added, “of course it would sound a lot better if it happens while reeling in a nice, fat striper.”