Monday, March 27, 2023

Freeman Park facing excess trash; town council searches for solutions

Overflowing trash cans area a reoccurring problem at Freeman Park (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Carolina Beach)
Overflowing trash cans area a reoccurring problem at Freeman Park (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Carolina Beach)

CAROLINA BEACH — The Town of Carolina Beach has growing concerns regarding the amount of trash left on the beach in Freeman Park –– specifically near the north end of the park.

The town has addressed the concern in the past, by adding more trash containers and offering guests trash bags upon arrival, but members of the Town Council could vote to add more regulations to help keep the trash off the beach.

Town Manager Michael Cramer on Tuesday addressed some of staff’s concerns regarding the state of the beach — and possible solutions to some of the problems — with the council.

The park, which is located at the northern end of Pleasure Island, used to have more problems than currently found, but there are still issues the town can address, Cramer said.

The problems facing the beach this year include: trash; Porta-John issues, including cleanliness and trash; people in the beds of trucks; the number of people per campsite, as well as the number of vehicles per campsite; and damaged ropes.

While the council discussed several of the items on the list of actionable items, the focus of the discussion revolved around trash on the beach.

The town provides six dumpsters for guest use at the park. However, they are not seeing much use.

The town provides several dumpsters for guests to use at Freeman Park (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Carolina Beach)
The town provides several dumpsters for guests to use at Freeman Park (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY CAROLINA BEACH)

“We have white dumpsters that say trash on the side of them and very few people are actually using them. They will pile stuff up along side of them and next to the blue barrels left and right. We are not real sure why the dumpsters are not being utilized, and what that creates for staff is more manual labor,” Cramer said.

Extra trash piling up on the beach is also a dangerous for animals like sea birds and turtles.

Council members were divided on solutions to the trash problem but they agreed there should be more strict rules in place for campers using the sites. There was discussion of the possibility of requiring a deposit for campers, and if the sites were not left clean, the deposit would not be refunded.

Cramer said one of the biggest problems with enforcement is not knowing who actually is leaving trash behind – council members agreed that, regardless of who made the mess, the person who made the reservation for the campsite should be held responsible.

Council Member Tom Bridges suggested one of the issues could be related to a language barrier with some of the guests of the park.

“We have a lot of Hispanic people that are out at the north end … it may be that they can’t read Spanish or English and they just don’t understand what they need to do. I don’t know if that plays a part or not,” Bridges said.

Council Member Steve Shuttleworth suggested the removal of several of the blue barrels used for trash collection, in the hope that guests would remove their trash via personal vehicles instead of leaving it behind.

Suggestions for leaving the dumpster lids open, removing the lids, and the possibility of adding another staff position to patrol the area, and issue citations for violators.

Cramer listed several potential solutions to some of the problems, including: no Camping in Zone 18 – 26, charge extra for more campers, limit number of campers on sites, remove blue barrels, and close park at 11 p.m.

The council took no action on the issues, but the topic is expected to return to the council for further deliberation.

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