Crew works to keep city’s parks clean

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2008

Recreation department worker Matt Stewart turned his head awayas he held the bag open for Kenneth Dickey and Terrell Adams todispose of the last shreds of City Park trash early Thursdaymorning.

“It’s just that there’s a pretty nasty smell coming from thisbag,” Stewart said.

And there was.

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Dickey, Adams and Stewart are the cleanup crew for the parks inBrookhaven. They are the first line of defense in the early morninglight.

As the city begins to wake up, these guys are clearing out theremains of the revelers the night before.

“This one is the hardest to clean,” Dickey said of City Park.”It’s used a lot more.”

Recreation Department Director Terry Reid said the generalpublic probably doesn’t realize just how out of hand their littercan get. He said though, that his guys begin each day at 7 a.m. andclean until every park is spotless again.

“Usually they’re cleaning up after birthday parties andpicnics,” Reid said. “But they do all the bathrooms where we havethem, and they empty the trash cans and pick up the limbs andpaper.”

And one might suppose the men are dealing with water bottles andnapkins, but they find all sorts of things.

“At the (Hansel King) Complex, people used to sneak in there atnight and leave their stuff all over the ground, picnic stuff andbeer cans and sometimes sandwich meat,” Stewart said. “And thebathrooms are always the worst.”

Dickey said they’ve been the ones to find graffiti and vandalismin addition to some of the party and social residue they’ve seen.And they do have to clean up every morning.

“One time we found that someone had stolen the sign at Kids’Kingdom,” Dickey said.

The guys said their only advice to park goers is that it mightnot hurt to use the trash cans, because there are people who seethe mess you leave behind.

Dickey has been with the recreation department for four yearsand Adams for three. They prepared Stewart when he joined theircrew about five months ago.

They told him he’d be cleaning up after some strange folks, andhe’d be seeing some strange things. And in their business, sizematters.

“My favorite to do is Kids’ Kingdom,” Adams said. “It’s thesmallest.”

Once the extra summer help has gone home, the park pickup cantake as much as four hours depending on how bad the mess is, Reidsaid.

And it’s not the end of the day for the guys once their trashtrials are over.

Next, Reid said, they get on the lawn mowers, don theirpainter’s caps or gather other accessories for whatever jobs needdoing and spend the rest of the day making the parks and ballfields presentable.

“They’re on the lawnmowers at the ball fields, or paintingbuildings or whatever we tell them to do,” Reid said. “But theparks are first every morning.”