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Litter on the Lakewalk near East High

I am a resident on Gilliat Street and live adjacent to the Lakewalk, which runs from 42nd to 40th avenues east. When walking on the Lakewalk recently I was appalled by the amount of litter from fast food restaurants, etc. in the stretch of Lakewalk behind Ordean and also the stretch from 40th going east.

There are garbage cans placed at intervals along the Lakewalk, but it is still obviously too difficult for some people to use them. There have been school lunch milk cartons, cigarette butts, Culver’s wrappers, Taco John’s wrappers, McDonald’s, used condoms, etc.

I try to pick up some of the rubbish when I see it, but I am concerned because the Lakewalk park is now completely littered with garbage. The Lakewalk is such a valuable asset to so many people that truly appreciate having such an accessible trail nearby their homes.

I am not sure what a solution could be, but may have to result in a “closed” lunch period, or the students having a group “clean up” day on the Lakewalk to see the consequences of littering.

I have e-mailed the school board, Mayor Ness, Principal Knapp and Asst. Principal Lien on this matter. I understand that the student council occasionally goes out to clean up the litter. I regularly go out an use the Lakewalk and have not noticed any improvement on the litter situation, if anything it has gotten worse. I am wondering what can be done about this problem and how it can be rectified?

This residential, Lakewalk park area did not have any litter before Ordean reopened as a high school. Garbage is blatantly thrown in the long grass by the main parking lot and also by the staff parking lot. To me there is no excuse for this. There are garbage cans placed at both of these locations.

Perhaps the students should remain in the building for lunch periods if this does not improve. It is a complete abuse of privileges that needs to be monitored on a more regular basis. Once every couple weeks is not enough. If students cannot respect nature and the privilege of open lunch periods, then there clearly needs to be a consequence.

I would encourage users of the Lakewalk to have a look around the embankment and grassy areas next to both the staff and student parking lots. Our once peaceful and clean neighborhood is being ruined by a problem that no one seems to be doing anything about. Anyone have any ideas/solutions?

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23 Comment(s)

  1. I’m as annoyed by litter as the next person and have a similar situation near my house in which the culprits are adults. The city’s solid waste compliance offer was very helpful in my case, but I’m not sure there’s much she could do in the case of the Lakewalk, although I suppose she could issue an order to the high school to clean up the mess if there is sufficient evidence that students were responsible. And that might be a step toward resolving the issue.

    It always bothers me, though, when the notion of closing student lunch breaks is brought forward, because it sets an awful double standard. Most adults have co-workers who leave a mess of cigarette butts on the sidewalk outside the workplace. The idea of the company announcing employees can no longer leave the building for lunch is ridiculous. So why pull such a silly power play on kids?

    Paul Lundgren | Feb 10, 2012 | New Comment
  2. I agree with Paul that we shouldn’t be too quick to blame and penalize young people.

    That said, I live right by the former site of East High. I walk the dog up Congdon Creek nearly every day, and when the high school was here, every day I filled my dog poop bags with trash. It was always the same thing: chocolate milk containers and ketchup-smeared French fry boats. (And of course there were piles of cigarette butts, but I didn’t usually pick those up.) There were three trash cans in the block between the high school and the creek.

    It seemed to me that a simple solution would have been not to let the kids take the French fry boats and chocolate milk containers out of the lunch room.

    bluenewt | Feb 10, 2012 | New Comment
  3. 1. Instead of suspending/expelling students for non violent offenses, make them do a daily ‘litter pick up’ in these areas.
    2. Have juveniles and adults who are completing community service programs in court do daily ‘litter pick up’ in these areas.
    3. Have unemployed, able bodied people who are receiving governmental assistance ‘earn’ their assistance by picking up garbage in these areas.
    4. Have students who are on academic suspension clean these areas.

    emmadogs | Feb 10, 2012 | New Comment
  4. One thing to be considered is the time of year.

    While we have not had that much snow this year, it still has a tendency to cover up some of it and when it melts… it shows its ugly head.

    People should be more considerate, but we also usually have more people out walking around when the weather is nice, and thus more people to clean up after the few turds that leave the trash lying around.

    Though I will say that anywhere near a high school will most certainly have a higher amount of litter than other areas. It is the nature of that age range to be an idiot.

    I was an idiot, you were an idiot, we were all idiots at that age. Instead of automatically condemning them, we should remember who we were at that time and give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Dorkus | Feb 10, 2012 | New Comment
  5. I think emmadogs has hit on something. I’m sure East has some kind of in-school suspension--why not make a daily trash pickup part of ISS?

    I’m sure there are other clubs at East, as well. Perhaps someone from the student council could coordinate an effort that would involve lots of groups each joining a rotation.

    Or, perhaps it might be a good idea for the Parks Department to ask the new city volunteer coordinator to create an “Adopt-a-Stretch” program to pick up litter along the entire Lakewalk. They’d just have to make sure that whoever adopted the stretch from 40th-42nd E was extra-committed.

    jessige | Feb 10, 2012 | New Comment
  6. I have to (politely) disagree with Paul about it being a double standard to consider closing the school open lunch. Kids aren’t adults, after all, and they simply do make more bad decisions. We limit their privileges in other ways … I’ve also noticed a lot more garbage on 40th street, and it’s just plain ugly. I don’t like cigarette buts either, but there is a difference between that and blatant littering, even if its just a matter of degree. I’m not sure how to collect “evidence” but it sure seems obvious that students are the cause since the litter appeared directly after school opened. Maybe someone should put up a field camera, and then provide the footage to school authorities.

    quirtep | Feb 11, 2012 | New Comment
  7. I went to a high school with a closed lunch, and even at the time, I thought this was the much safer/saner way to do it.

    Open lunches promote those who are lucky enough to have cars to run out for a quick lunch. Given that young drivers are more likely to drive dangerously, especially when with friends, safety is a real concern.

    Keep in mind, I was not a goody-two-shoes, I was a punk miscreant and still understood the purpose of closed lunches.

    BadCat! | Feb 11, 2012 | New Comment
  8. I also went to lunch at a school with a “closed lunch”. In fact, the concept of an open lunch never even occurred to me. Of course, I did come from a town with a population of under 600, and I have to admit that I played hookey many times. Still, I just don’t think it should be considered a given. This generation should have to eat lunchroom food just like I was forced to! Seriously, they are at school, and they are minors, and somebody should monitor them. I know how much of an old fuddy duddy I sound -- but young people are just not fully developed, or nearly as mature as I clearly am!

    quirtep | Feb 11, 2012 | New Comment
  9. There is too much of a whatever attitude among people in general today. Why bother walking over to the trash can? Just toss it. No respect for the landscape or environment. No respect for where you live! Who cares! Sadly it’s quite common today. I’m not some grumpy old man, just somebody that notices attitudes and trends. I just hate litter. It’s the ultimate insult to property and the world. The only thing worse is the tagging with spray cans. You can include Cascade park in that thought as well.

    Bayfieldwis | Feb 11, 2012 | New Comment
  10. Open lunches promote those who are lucky enough to have cars to go smoke weed. Though, I suppose you don’t have to have a car.

    adam | Feb 11, 2012 | New Comment
  11. With all due respect, I’m not willing to embrace Dorkus’s “they’re all idiots and so were we” argument. I suspect that most teens are sufficiently socialized to know how to use a trash can, and it’s not really fair to accuse them all of being jerks.

    Then, too, it would be a mistake to blame every instance of littering on the Lakewalk or the surrounding area on high school students--as I walk our dog, I’m constantly annoyed by the amount of uncollected dog crap scattered along the Lakewalk (despite the provision of both the aforementioned trash cans and conveniently-located dispensers of little plastic bags). I’m pretty sure most of that isn’t produced by high school kids.

    That said, my experience does suggest that high school students are, pound for pound, bigger idiots than the rest of us, and the various anecdotes above suggest a causal relationship between wayward students and excess trash. With that in mind, I would have no compunctions about threatening to confine students to campus all day. Somehow I survived that way for 12 years--if the problem can’t be substantially reduced via self-policing, then I suspect our current generation of students could probably survive that way too.

    Perhaps the answer is to ratchet up the restriction incrementally--cut back from open campus five days a week to four, then three, etc. if the problem isn’t addressed, and reversing course if things improve and remain in good shape.

    The Big E | Feb 12, 2012 | New Comment
  12. In my opinion, it’s the carelessness of general assholes, and not any one particular group of them either. Unless we can prove the students are responsible there’s no reason to “punish” them by taking away their open lunch privileges. I realize it’s possible to live without these privileges, especially if that’s the culture of the school you attend and the town you live in. The precedent has been set by our schools that this is something older students are allowed to do, so in their case it *would* be a punishment.

    I agree with having those serving community service pick it up. I earn the assistance I receive from the state by paying income and sales taxes among others…I don’t think I should be forced to work a second job for those privileges. I never liked the insinuation that just because you’re on assistance you’re sitting around doing nothing.

    I don’t think it serves anyone to point the finger at a singular group unless there is evidence to support that blame. Let’s just chock it up to jerks whose mommas didn’t raise em right.

    Makoons | Feb 13, 2012 | New Comment
  13. Most schools have closed lunches. Open lunches promote kids going off campus to drink, smoke weed, and drive recklessly. To assume that having an open lunch is some right that the students at East should have doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. What is the point of having an open lunch? They’re at school for a reason, and they get to go home at 2:50 or 3:00. I think if myself and most other college students I know could survive a closed lunch during their days in high school, the East students can as well. Just close the campus, and I bet the lakewalk looks a lot cleaner almost instantly.

    duluth14 | Feb 13, 2012 | New Comment
  14. The point of an open lunch is that students should not be prisoners, and they are not all guilty of littering simply because a handful of their contemporaries might be.

    Paul Lundgren | Feb 13, 2012 | New Comment
  15. Nobody is saying students are prisoners. They are future factory workers and should act accordingly. Bell ring, hammer start; bell ring, hammer stop; repeat; drive to Subway; bell ring, hammer start; bell ring, hammer stop; repeat.

    adam | Feb 13, 2012 | New Comment
  16. The College of St Scholastica is showing the silent classic “Metropolis” in April. So per Adam’s point, it will be very useful for the CSS students to see their future on the big screen.

    okay, gotta get back to working for The Man.

    emmadogs | Feb 13, 2012 | New Comment
  17. Factory work? In America?

    edgeways | Feb 13, 2012 | New Comment
  18. So that is the point, but is it a necessary one? Once you hit 16, you no longer have to be a “prisoner” at the public school you attend. Obviously not all the kids are littering, but you’d have to admit that if they did go to a closed lunch that the littering problem would definitely drop off. Right?

    duluth14 | Feb 13, 2012 | New Comment
  19. Yeah, if I admitted that I guess my whole argument would just totally fall apart.

    Here is what we did at Morgan Park Junior High School in 1987 to remedy the problem of some of my classmates littering the stretch of woods across the street during our open lunch:

    Students could get a pass to go pick up garbage during studyhall.

    It doesn’t sound like a glamorous job, but it took me about 15 minutes to fill up a trash bag and then I could spend the rest of the hour misbehaving in the woods with other students. Win-win. Problem solved.

    Paul Lundgren | Feb 13, 2012 | New Comment
  20. That sounds like a good idea too. I wonder if the folks at East would consider something like that to take care of the issue. Either way, something should obviously be done. The Lakewalk is one of the nicest assets we have as a town and we need to take measures to keep it that way.

    duluth14 | Feb 14, 2012 | New Comment
  21. Paul: that is brilliant. Of course that would lead to other problems I’m sure. Miscreants will always be miscreants regardless of the time of day…they can litter after school hours too.

    Makoons | Feb 14, 2012 | New Comment
  22. If you have ever taken a walk during East’s “open lunch” time you can see the kids out there smoking pot. I have reported it to the school and their response is to “call the cops.” But of course by the time that all happens they have scattered.

    mdy | Feb 24, 2012 | New Comment
  23. Thank you for letting us know about something that has been happening since smoking pot was invented.

    Paul Lundgren | Feb 24, 2012 | New Comment

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