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Ford City councilman: Litter-strewn hill an 'attractive nuisance'

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Tom Mitchell| For the Leader Times
Ford City councilman Jerry Miklos looks over the trash at Boulder Park with Ernest Rosenberger 10. Thursday July 31, 2013

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Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, 1:11 a.m.

FORD CITY – Several weeks ago, broken bottles and rusty tin cans led to a mishap for Ernest Rosenberger, 10. Rosenberger told borough council that he was playing at Boulder Park when he ventured onto an adjacent wooded hillside with some friends to “build a fort.”

It was there that the youth accidentally cut a finger on one of the hundreds of broken bottles littering the hillside. A few days later, he asked council what, if anything, could be done about the dangerous litter.

Council member Jerry Miklos said that although the playground at the park is clean and well maintained, the hillside, which rises steeply to Route 66, is an attractive nuisance for some children.

Miklos said he believes the majority of the broken bottles, mostly beer bottles, land on the hillside after being thrown out of vehicles on Route 66. He said there is a path that meanders from the park through the hillside and ends on Ridge Avenue. Despite the steepness of the trail, a number of people climb or descend the hill nearly every day.

“I would say there are hundreds of bottles, mostly broken, and dozens of cans that litter the wooded hillside and the trail,” Miklos said. “In the past, volunteers have launched cleanup efforts, but more cans and bottles appear almost every week. We have a resident who routinely collects several large bags of trash weekly, but there's always more.”

Throughout the summer, between 10 and 20 children, most in the lower elementary school grades, attend organized play sessions in the park. Playground supervisor Taylor Fujini said she keeps close tabs on the children to ensure they stay on the neatly manicured lawn and away from the woods. Fujini said keeping the children away from the woods requires constant vigilance.

Miklos said that council missed an opportunity to ask PennDOT to erect a fence along the hillside portion of Route 66 several years ago when major road work was done on the highway. He said he will urge council to do so now.

Miklos said that volunteer groups or people doing community service could be used in a cleanup campaign but first there has to be a way to stop the flow of trash.

“Although the cans, bottles and other debris are a big problem,” Miklos said, “a bigger problem is the trail itself. It is very steep and parts of it are washed out. People sometimes use it when they want to walk to the Sheetz store or to Ford Cliff. The trail parallels the road way and once on top people walk along the highway which is very dangerous. There is no walkway. Something has to be done, and soon.”

Tom Mitchell is a Leader Times correspondent.

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