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Friends Of The Parks To Clean Up Chicago Parks For Earth Week, But Some Are Too Dirty For Volunteers

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Lots of parks across Chicago are getting cleaned up this weekend for Earth Week, but some locations won't be getting a spruce up, including one deemed too dangerous for volunteers.

Springtime can bring the best and worst of humanity out of hibernation; among the latter, people who litter.

Innocent kids end up playing alongside trash, discarded bags coexist with birds, even the ice cream has to avoid filth as he pushes his cart.

Deep inside the Chicago Park District's budget is a line item for more than $600,000 of janitorial and custodial supplies. Another $2.7 million is allocated for waste disposal.

Explore the parks to be cleaned this year

"The Park District does its own cleaning throughout the year, but really the demand is there for volunteers to help out," said Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks.

The non-profit park advocacy group has organized more than 100 volunteer cleanup events at Chicago parks this weekend. Friends of the Park's 30th annual Earth Week park cleanup events are free and open to anyone with a few hours to spare.

"I think lots of people find this as an entry point to learn about how they can engage with their parks," Irizarry said.

Some parks aren't on the cleanup list because they're missing a site leader. Others didn't make the cut because they're too dirty.

Empty baggies litter the grass just steps from where children play at Harding Park, near Division and Pulaski. The drug paraphernalia is too much of a health hazard for volunteers to clean up, and too unsanitary for Victor Alicea's 3-year-old nephew to play on the swings.

"I won't bring him here. They come drinking. I'm surprised there ain't no beer cans here," Alicea said.

Alicea said he often sees drug users sitting in the park, getting high, and passing out.

The Chicago Park District responded to CBS 2's inquiries on Thursday afternoon, saying it cleans Harding Park daily, removing all trash and debris. It acknowledges that Harding remains one of its most challenging parks to keep clean, in part because of the drug activity.

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