Park lovers unite!
Following suit with nearby Francis Lewis Park and Alley Pond Park enthusiasts, Baysiders with a passion for the outdoors established a Friends of Crocheron and John Golden Park group during the month of August and celebrated its inception with a green space cleanup Aug. 30.
“We want to help people connect with nature,” said founder Jessica Burke. “It’s a way to connect a lot of people that already know each other and have the same interests ... these are our parks and we want to make sure they’re taken care of.”
After weeks of assembling, members of the newly formed group officially met in person Sunday morning to kick off their first event. More than two dozen people showed up to pick up trash throughout the Bayside park, which includes several sporting fields, nature trails and open green spaces.
In addition to scooping up litter from the bramble, the activists gathered downed limbs from the Aug. 6 Hurricane Isaias and placed them into piles to make it easier for Parks Department employees to collect.
“It was something that everyone was able to do, and you can see your own progress,” said Burke. “People felt accomplished. To see the pile of trash or downed limbs and know you cleaned that area.”
Burke was inspired to form the group after noticing the green space could benefit from extra care. Utilizing social media, Burke posted photographs of overflowing trash cans and graffiti across the gazebos to find that other residents shared similar feelings of dismay. Her roommate, Paulina, had previously been a member of Friends of Prospect Park, and Burke decided that implementing such a group in Bayside would provide the perfect vehicle to take action in her own neighborhood.
“I realized that people might have the gumption to go out there and do something about it and not just complain,” Burke said. “I thank Paulina a lot for introducing me [to the idea] ... She really felt like she made a difference.”
Friends of Crocheron and John Golden Park works with the Parks Department, but does not receive any funding. The members plan to apply for various grants in the future as it expands its goals, which could include organizing a farmers market, but for now its only expenses are garbage bags and masks.
“At this point, we’re just focusing on taking care of the park,” Burke said, adding that the group will be a success if the first event can serve as an indication of its future. “I think it goes to show how much Baysiders are looking for the opportunity to do something.”
Participants of the weekend cleanup ranged from residents of the immediate area to Flushing Boy Scouts Troop 235.
“There’s no requirements to be a member — just being a park goer and being interested,” Burke said. “Everyone can enjoy the park and voice how they think it can be better.”