June 10, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
As peak season approaches, Astoria Park advocates are worried that a garbage problem on Shore Boulevard will continue to tarnish the otherwise inviting waterfront.
As with most urban green spaces, Astoria Park suffers from a litter problem.
Shore Boulevard, the road that traverses the waterfront, in particular has long been cluttered with trash dropped by both drivers and pedestrians, advocates say.
“It’s a terrible dumping site,” Astoria Park Alliance co-chair Martha Lopez-Gilpin said. “It’s not a place to throw your bottles over; it is our direct connection to the water.”
According to Parks Department spokesperson Meghan Lalor, the Shore Boulevard sidewalk gets cleaned daily and the garbage cans are emptied.
Nevertheless, advocates have been taking the trash problem into their own hands for years.
Green Shores NYC has hosted summer and fall shoreline cleanups for about a decade, focusing primarily on the rocks along the Shore Boulevard seawall.
According to GSNYC Vice President Clare Doyle, volunteers typically collect between 20 and 40 bags of trash during a three-hour period each summer.
Doyle said that volunteers typically find Styrofoam, plastic bags, fast food wrapping, cigarette butts and beer bottles on the rocks, although they have also picked up “quirkier” items, from a passport to a couch.
Green Shores NYC will host its 2015 summer cleanup on June 27 from noon to three p.m. Volunteers will meet at the War Memorial on Shore Boulevard behind the Astoria Park pool.
Lopez-Gilpin said that Shore Boulevard’s trash problem, which she called “tremendous,” is getting worse as Astoria’s population grows.
“Because of a density issue, [Shore Boulevard] is shifting. It gets much more pedestrian traffic,” Lopez-Gilpin said. “We’ve got to address usage, and with the usage is garbage.”
She added that one possible solution would be for the City to treat the corridor more like a promenade, in part by increasing garbage pickup, and potentially by blocking vehicles from Shore Boulevard during certain times or seasons.
The Department of Transportation did not respond to requests for comment on Shore Boulevard traffic mitigation.