All politicians make promises with caveats and conditions large enough to drive a trash removal truck through.
I’m betting the Mike DeWine Administration’s Ohio Department of Natural Resources director can tell whoppers with the best of them. Maybe some proof of that came just an hour or so ago when I took a bit of time to visit nearby (for me) Headlands Beach State Park.
I do that from time to time, just to satisfy my pessimism that nothing really changes in government, even when the baton is handed off from one administrative ship to the next.
Truth is, I pretty much saw what I was expecting, given the low status that Headlands Beach has accumulated over the years. The same could be said about the (former) Cleveland State Park which was punted to Cleveland Metroparks when the Ohio Department of Natural Resources failed in its duties to maintain that jewel.
And Headlands is no less a valuable resource, though my hour-ago visit indicated otherwise.
Granted, the place is wet and that has complicated matters at Headlands and other state parks along Lake Erie. We have near historic high Lake Erie water levels which have impacted low-lying Headlands. Ditto with above average precipitation for March, April and thus far in May: plus-0.16 inches for March, plus-0.52 inches for April, and plus-.021 inches thus far for May.
Any number of Headlands’ parking lots and interior roads have standing water in them while the park’s eastern section is cordoned off due to the high water.
I get all of that, though there are other issues which cannot be ignored, and which have long been a sore point with more than a few Headland visitors. Myself included.
Many of the park’s picnic tables are in horrendously poor shape and perhaps even dangerous to use, though they remain available. Covered in unappealing moss-like growth, these picnic tables’ rotting wood typically sag and buckle.
Then too the parking lots have long-standing piles of wood chips, branches and other debris; everything being pretty unsightly, honestly.
Far, far worse are the condition of several park metal trash dumpsters. In fact, one trash dumpster was anchored in ankle-deep water; thus unusable unless one wanted to wade wet in order to lob in a bag of trash. Yes, some substantial portions of the parking lots are inundated but I seriously doubt it would take much for some piece of machinery to drag this particular dumpster several feet back onto dry ground again.
More disheartening – and an unhealthy one at that – was observing how several of the dumpsters were full or nearly full of trash; bags of discarded food stuffs, junk, and even broken pieces of what looked like boards from a couple of those picnic tables we mentioned a bit earlier.
Things is, having dumpsters still full of trash two and three days after a major holiday is inexcusable. It is beyond unsightly because it is unhealthy. They are breeding grounds for disease, insects and vermin., the latter two of which Headland has in abundance.
And so, the promise to do better by Natural Resources director Mary Mertz and Parks and Watercraft chief Glen Cobb to Ohio’s outdoor writers less than one month ago must be viewed with a certain degree of questioning faith.
After all, I’d much rather see a politician accomplish a little thing like removing disease-carrying trash than for a politician to promise that with the arrival of a new administration happy days are here again.
I will believe it when I see it, and right now my eyes are smarting from seeing my hometown state park in such a sad state of affairs.