JACKSON, Mich. — During the summer time people come to Ella Sharp Park to use their hiking trails, play soccer or softball and enjoy nature, but recently there have been people coming here to trash it.
“Whether that’s dumping trash or doing some off-roading and large vehicles tearing up the lawn. It’s really disheartening to see,” Jackson Public Information Officer Aaron Dimick said.
It’s not unusual for people people mistreat the park, but the Parks Director Kelli Hoover said it has been happening more frequently.
“Unfortunately, there’s always garbage or things that are dumped here and there but all of a sudden it has started to become more and more and more,” she said. “We have had people dumping into the Grand River their leaf bags, like full gigantic leaf bags into the river. People do construction projects in their home like old drywall and drop it there. A bed of a truck was found at the park. So, the garbage uptake has gotten so much more than it’s been even a year ago.”
On top of that people are going off-roading in trucks and tearing up the grass, leaving big ruts in its fields which takes resources away from the limited parks staff.
Hoover said they will not know the full extent of the damage until spring.
“If it is larger and we don’t know what it is, we’ll have companies come in and take it out for us or we have to take it to the dump,” she said. “All that is cost. It’s time, it’s gas and it’s the cost of the dump. It’s also not doing something great for the environment in the park around you and we want people to come out here and enjoy themselves in the park and not have to worry about those things.”
The city is asking the community to help protect parks like Ella Sharp by reporting the issues and will be making greater use of city police as well.
“Our police department is going to be keeping a closer watch on the park when they’re doing patrols to make sure that everything is going smoothly there,” Dimick said.
If that doesn’t work, Dimick says they may have to close off streets to make it harder for people to go off the road or put up signage about illegal dumping and the fines associated with that.
“We have this really great feature on our city website called ‘Report A Concern’ and you can call and leave a voicemail or you can send us a text message or an e-mail and then you can communicate directly with city staff about how to take care of that situation,” he said.
City officials say if you see anyone doing something illegal at the park whether it is off-roading or dumping trash to call 911 so officers can respond.
“If it is something where you are in the park and you see some graffiti or you see some trash and no one around you think is responsible that is not something you need call 911,” Dimick said.
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