Winslow Park Plea: Dirt Bikers, Clean Up After Yourselves!

Deb Howland-Murray calls herself “a portrait artist who benefited tremendously from growing up in Westport’s artistic environment. After a sojourn for college and adventures, I returned to Westport. I have lived here for the past 35 years.” 

She writes:

Each spring people pour out of their houses and into nature, shedding months of cold the way a snake sheds its skin.

This year brings new significance to this outdoor migration: a heightened longing for beauty and distraction in the spring of COVID-19.

Maybe that’s why so many people flock to Winslow Park. They come not only to walk dogs, but to enjoy its 28 acres of sunny fields and dense woods. They are parents with children riding scooters and bikes, joggers, couples sitting in conversation on the park’s benches, and teenagers anxious to try their skills on the dirt bike jumps in one of the forested, trail-laced sections of the park.

The Winslow Park dirt bike course. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Winslow is a treasure. Now more than ever, it’s a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively. I’ve watched it come to life this spring, delighted in April’s little purple flowers, the massive trees leafing out in May, the fields that now read yellow with buttercups.

These are such a sharp contrast to the trash, broken glass and empty vape boxes carpeting the dirt bike section of the park.

Vape boxes litter the dirt bike area. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

I like to watch the teenagers barreling down the course’s steep hill and becoming airborne on the ascent. But it saddens me that the fun is coupled with such disrespect for the surrounding environment, one that’s dotted with wonderful examples of human creativity as well as natural beauty.

The dirt bike course was created by enterprising teenagers, and adjacent to it there is a remarkable lean-to someone made from large branches. Next to the lean-to, a picnic table waits invitingly in the shade. I’ve seen people meditating there.

But who would want to stop there now? Who could bring their small children to play among the empty cans and vape boxes? Which paw will be the first to be sliced by glass shards? When will an unknowing puppy be drawn to the scent of food on a snack wrapper and make the unfortunate mistake of swallowing it?

Trash left on tables. The lean-to is in the back. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Don’t get me wrong. I love teenagers; I raised 5 of them. An avid skier and hunter-jumper rider, I’m all for the excitement of speed and the joy of flying through the air. I want the kids to have fun in the park. They seem like good kids, wearing their helmets and respectfully keeping a physical distance when they meet others on the trails. They’re polite.

I’m happy that they have a safe, outdoor place to congregate in small numbers at such a difficult and disappointing time to be a teenager. And I’m not interested in passing judgment on what they might or might not be drinking or smoking. That’s up to their parents.

But speaking directly to you, young people: Nature is not your trash can. The park is there for all to enjoy. Now especially, we need to add what we can to each other’s enjoyment.

The Winslow Park lean-to. (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Please, kiddos: Create whatever mess you want in your rooms – I certainly did. Just bring a bag with you to the park, collect your garbage and drop it in the trash cans when you exit.

We dog owners do the same. Believe me, collecting your garbage is not nearly as gross as what we are collecting and ferrying to those cans! But what if we didn’t? What if the area you enjoy was full of the kind of waste no one wants to step in?

So, c’mon. Litter-ally, place your drop in the massive bucket of consideration we need right now. It’s not too much to ask.

7 responses to “Winslow Park Plea: Dirt Bikers, Clean Up After Yourselves!

  1. Morley Boyd

    There’s a dirt bike course and encampment in Winslow? That’s interesting. I’ll bet Parks & Rec had no idea until it read about it here. The dept. does its best to ignore the first word in its name. Speaking of disregard for our non-renewable resources, the town, on or before Wednesday, March 5th, was supposed to inform the RTM of a plan to deal with the 5,000 yards of toxic fill it got caught dumping in Barons South Park. Guess what never happened?

  2. Sue Iseman

    I walk through Winslow Park often and never noticed this. It’s bad enough dog walkers leave their bags filled with poop everywhere. Too exhausted/busy/distracted/stressed to walk over to the garbage pail I’m guessing.

  3. Patricia Mcmahon

    I was surprised to see a group of teenagers there around 6 pm setting up two tents while walking my dog through one of the trails .

  4. Brad French

    I pick up trash and dog poop bags all the time. But haven’t been to the park since they put the leash rule because my dog has never been on a leash! Buzzy is the best behaved golden ever!

  5. Mary-Lou Weisman

    Thanks to Deborah Howland-Murray for calling attention to the beauties of Winslow Park and to the inconsiderate people who trash it.

  6. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for posting. I was going to pick up a lot of trash in that area, but couldn’t do it safely with my dog who is 5 months old. I also knew that there would likely be more the next day anyway. Pretty upsetting.

    • Morley Boyd

      Not to worry, Meg. You just know that red faced town officials, upon learning yesterday that there is some kind of park in downtown Westport, privately disparaged the resident who had the temerity to speak up – then dispatched workers to locate this alleged park and pick up the evidence of their gross inattention to same. Problem solved. For today.