Monday mornings are busy for most people, but for Stefan Griscenco, they can be especially arduous. Griscenco is one of two maintenance workers Hamburg employs to clean Schanzenpark, and if the weather was nice over the weekend, the park is usually brimming with litter on Monday — litter Griscenco has to spend hours picking up.
Some people attribute the large amount of litter often seen at Schanzenpark to the park’s increased popularity; others think the park’s garbage cans aren’t big enough or visitors are just lazy. Altona, the administrative district responsible for Schanzenpark’s maintenance, has received complaints about the litter and has experimented with ways aimed at reducing it. However, Altona thinks the park is properly maintained and doesn’t have a unique litter problem.
Though that can be debated, for certain is this: Griscenco is the person cleaning up the mess week after week, and the task is not easy. “Schanzenpark is the worst when it comes to litter,” Griscenco said on a recent Monday morning as he walked through Schanzenpark spearing trash with a litter-collecting stick. Griscenco said he usually needs a full seven hours to clean Schanzenpark, much more time than he needs to clean other parks under his care.
That Griscenco needs so much time to clean the park is understandable. On this particular Monday, various pieces of garbage and used pieces of charcoal were strewn all over the lawns; trashcans were overflowing; broken glass was scattered on the walkways and near benches. Even a random piece of moldy furniture was on one of the lawns.
Griscenco said that litter at the park began to get more abundant about eight years ago, when more people began visiting the park on weekends and on nice days. He thinks less litter would exist if Altona put larger garbage cans throughout the park and if the park were cleaned five times a week instead of three.
The only problem is, Altona is not of the same mind. Jan Lengwenath, a spokesman for the borough, said that Altona thinks that the number of
times the park is cleaned each week is “absolutely sufficient.” After all, he said, Schanzenpark is not filled with litter every single day and usually only has litter issues during “peak times” or after it hosts special events.
As for larger garbage cans, Altona does not want to put them in Schanzenpark because large garbage cans can create their own problems. Lengwenath said that Altona had tried putting larger garbage cans in high litter areas throughout the borough (though never in Schanzenpark) but ultimately had to remove the receptacles because troublemakers seemed to set them on fire more readily than they would the smaller, normal size cans.
If anyone is to blame for the litter at Schanzenpark, Lengwenath said, it’s the litterers. Though that may be true, that still doesn’t make Griscenco’s burden any lighter. Griscenco said that there have been times when the litter at Schanzenpark was so abundant he had to use a rake to collect it all in one place before cleaning it up.
And how about this for irony: Sometimes after Griscenco has prepared all the bags of litter for pick up by the maintenance van, crows swoop down and tear the bags apart, which makes the refuse spill out and gives Stefan even more work to do.
Still, Griscenco tries to stay positive. “I don’t want to complain too much. After all, picking up litter is part of the job, and I like my job.” Nevertheless, he does have one basic request to park visitors: “At least bring any trash you have to the garbage cans. If the cans are full, put the trash next to the cans. Just do at least that.”
Though Schanzenpark belongs to Altona, it used to belong to Eimsbüttel. However, Schanzenpark is in Sternschanze, and in 2006 all of Sternschanze — the parts that were in Eimsbüttel, Hamburg-Mitte and Altona — came under the administrative control of Altona. The Hamburg Senate thought that placing Sternschanze under the control of one administrative district would lead to fewer bureaucratic problems and would help facilitate economic growth in Sternschanze.