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Residents desperate to keep Harlem public park clean

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 8/17/2011, 7:53 p.m.

Both bathrooms also lack working hand dryers, soap and toilet paper, which residents usually provide. McClendon reported that the park official, who he said was a white man named "Danny," told him, "You people need to learn to take care of your community better."

At 5 p.m. the bathrooms are locked, according to McClendon, who said that after that time the park's population usually doubles from 200 people to around 400 or 500 people, forcing people to relieve themselves outside on the wall.

Garbage pickup is also an issue, he said, with trash piling up near cans and not being picked up for three to four days.

McClendon said that St. Nicholas is a peaceful park with no fighting or violence and is a place that the city should take care of.

"We don't have an fights or disputes out here, and the older folks keep order," he said. "We have a group of guys that are more than willing to clean the park. We need resources. We're not looking for salary. They've got us living like a third world country."

Shortly after the walk-through McClendon informed the AmNews that reaction by a park supervisor prompted a cleanup the following day.

The parks department responded to the Amnews, saying, "If any members of the community are interested in volunteering at St. Nicholas Park, we encourage them to contact us and we will help provide the resources and logistics for any potential volunteer projects."