Two more parks this week

This parks post is a bit different out of necessity. 

Graves Park is located on Graves Road in Norcross, GA. The parks site indicates that the main paved trail is 1.25 miles. The actual markings from my trek around it end at 1.14 miles. The park mostly consists of open fields for volley ball, has two tennis courts, pavillion, children’s play area and a really nice dog park split for large and small dogs.. Trail is about 50% shaded with some hills and inclines. The trail is just challenging enough but not so hard as to leave you gasping for air.  This park will definitely be in rotation for running and one in which I can take my shared custody dogs to 🙂

Mountain Park Park is located on Five Forks Trickum Road in Lilburn, GA and it has a LOT going on. Baseball/softball fields, football field, lighted tennis courts, batting cage, grassy shaded areas, a skate park and a 1.0 mile pave trail.  The trail runs close in to all the fields, so it might be a bit distracting for someone used to running on trails surrounded by trees.  There are some trees on the back side and the trail is really most conducive for easy run days.  I likely will not run in this park but will pull up in one of those grassy areas and read or chill or watch all the kids play.

Having taken an extra day off during the holiday I went to these parks because I made a promise to myself to change up my routine a bit after Peachtree and run in some different parks throughout my county.  Both Bethesda (visited on 7/5) and Graves (visited on 7/6) meet my criteria for good spots to run, enough hills, adequate shade, not too close to the other activities and so on.  What I found most disappointing was the discrepancy in the maintenance of these parks. Both Bethesda and Mountain Park were clean, trash bins empty and doodie bags (for dogs) stocked appropriately throughout the park.  Graves Park on the other hand had some trash on the side of the trail, the trash bins were full and there were no doodie bags in the stations along the route.  Norcross, in which Graves Park resides is in a majority Latino area.  So my mind really started racing at the point.  Instead of flying off the deep end altogether I contacted the Parks department to find out why the other parks were clean and this particular park was not and was told that the supervisor for that area was out as a result of an accident.  Now, the supervisor generally is not the one who cleans the park there are work crews that do this.  Even after the holiday it’s highly unlikely that not every single one of the work crews was off, which means the parks still should have trash picked up. Besides, is there not some sort of contingency plan for when people are out so that the work continues? It’s all too fishy for me, because even ignoring the trash problem, there is still an element of  maintenance in terms of weeds and grass and overgrowth in Graves that was not present in the other parks visited.  So the question in my mind is, is there willful neglect of parks that serve minority areas and those that do not?  I’ll be returning to the park to see next week and will be checking out more of the parks in the more heavily populated minority areas in the county.  My desire is to be presently surprised to find them all in pristine condition. My expectation however is that they won’t be.  Gwinnett County on the whole is a “majority minority” county but there are pockets where this is not the case.  If I find maintenance to be equitable, I’ll let it rest, if not I’ll be calling for back up.

Stay tuned.