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April 5, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Park Slope / Meadows of Shame

Parks Department says Prospect Park lake is clean

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The lake in Prospect Park was given a clean bill of health by the city’s environmental agency — but the findings were immediately criticized by wildlife lovers who believe that the waterway has become toxic and deadly after two weeks of mysterious dumping of chicken heads and animal entrails.

The fortnight of terror climaxed with the death of John Boy, one of the lake’s beloved swans, though Park officials have said she was killed by a rival waterfowl, not by the foul conditions in the lake.

“Samples from Prospect Park Lake were normal and there was no indication of any substances that could endanger wildlife in or around the lake,” said Eugene Patron, a Prospect Park spokesman.

The tests — carried out separately by the Department of Environmental Protection and a team from Brooklyn College — “confirmed a healthy ecosystem,” according to Patron.

Some swan-lovers remained skeptical of the results, and insisted that the tests — which were carried out after the torrential downpour of last week — were not indicative of the filthy state of the lake.

“The city has effectively taken samples of the rain water out of the lake for testing,” said Anne-Katrin Titze, a professor of Literature at Hunter College who visits the park daily. “Is there no shame? The test does not measure the conditions at the lake when we discovered the dead animals.”

Titze, along with her companion, Ed Bahlman, has recently become an outspoken critic of the park as a bizarre series of animal deaths, fires, and disgusting animal guts have swept through the western edge of the lake.

“The lake was tested two weeks too late to save the animals,” said Titze, referencing the opossums, turtle, fish, and ultimately, one of the park’s celebrity swans — John Boy — which all met their demise in roughly one week, all in the same area.

Bahlman added, “It took what happened to John Boy and the other animals to spur action.”

But after two weeks of inaction in response to at least two fires that burnt swathes of reeds along the lake, as well as the appearance of chicken heads and other assorted viscera floating on the edge of the lake, the park said it would be ramping up security in the area.

“Parks Department personnel and the New York City Police Department have heightened their surveillance of the lake and adjacent areas of the Park,” Patron said.

In addition, Patron promised that any other animals that turned up dead in the area would be tested — a clear change in policy from previous weeks, when a dead duck, along with many other creatures, were thrown in the trash. John Boy, whose cause of death remains highly debated, was cremated before a thorough autopsy could be carried out, fueling additional conspiracy theories.

“That’s a major positive change in policy,” Bahlman said.

Despite all the unanswered questions, Patron reiterated that the grisly goings-on were in line with the normal course of events as winter gives way to spring.

“The recent death of a swan … is thought to have been the result of injuries the animal sustained during a fight with another swan — swans are highly territorial birds, especially during the spring mating season,” Patron said.

He added, “Similarly, the remains of a few other animals found in the park in the last few weeks … are in keeping with the normal course of wildlife mortality in a large, urban park at the end of a difficult winter.”

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Reader Feedback

Ron from Kensington says:
"Parks Department says Prospect Park lake is clean"

Anyone who has walked along the watercourse would beg to differ.
Mr. Patron's comments have no bearing on the condition of the lake or on how the animals ended up dying in the water.
It does help the park's credibility to continue to speculate that the cause of death of the young swan was by another swan.
April 5, 2010, 9:51 am
John from Prospect Heights says:
The die off of animals in and at the lake is normal.
This is why the park is being run into the ground.
1. The amount of garbage in and at the lake is normal.
2. The public drinking in and at the lake is normal.
3. The irresponsible fishing in and at the lake is normal.
4. The amount of dumping from barbequing in and at the lake is normal.
5. The non-response from the park in and at the lake is normal.
April 5, 2010, 10:48 am
Mel from Prospect Heights says:
Friday evening around 11pm I was walking at the southern edge of the lake, and a swan literally fell out of a tree. It was sitting in the road, so I went over and shooed it off the road onto the grass. I wonder if this is the swan that died? One of it's legs seemed a bit wobbly. No one was around to tell.
April 5, 2010, 11:03 am
Sean from Windsor Terrace says:
There is all too often, an excuse-laden response from the park, when the residents who live nearby express their concerns.
It is a fact, that the park lakeside is in poor shape. It is also a fact, that the deterioration we see at the lake is due to inaction on the part of those in charge.
Has Stephen Brown been to the lake lately?
April 5, 2010, 11:23 am
CAROLINE from PARK SLOPE says:
The none testing of mammals found dead in the lake is inexcusable.
The uninformed and downright deceptive comment that they know how the swan died is inexcusable.
The park, after all this media coverage, continues to use the same tired tactics. We are never at fault, nothing really needs to change much.
The park's incredible responses, to these serious issues, should have been challenged by your reporter with facts.
April 5, 2010, 11:45 am
Richie Rich from parkslope says:
The park rangers are BS us again. The lake is filthy and unhealthy for the animals.
We should get rid of the current city/fed park rangers and privatize it.

Lets get the Park Alliance to help.
April 5, 2010, 11:56 am
Glenn from Park Slope says:
The Prospect Park Alliance is the organization that is responsible for the lack of care lakeside.
The head of the Alliance was quoted as saying, that it is common that animals die after the winter thaw, when it begins to warm up. What a load of double-talk.
As Richie accurately states: "The lake is filthy and unhealthy for the animals."
April 5, 2010, 12:11 pm
Robert from Park Slope says:
Prospect Park Lake is in need of protection. The park hierarchy is allowing the destruction to occur right in front of our children's eyes.
The arrogance to minimize the deaths of animals is appallingly careless.
Please get your priorities straight.
The poor cygnet was dying in the lake and the park is only looking to cover it up.
The lake environment as wildlife habitat has been severely compromised.
April 5, 2010, 12:21 pm
Lisa from Windsor Terrace says:
Who is Mr. Patron quoting and covering up for?
I would not want to have his job.
The disconnection is shown time and time again, when the park refuses to admit to the reality at hand.
We who love the park and its lake, could never be an apologist and minimize what is going on.
April 5, 2010, 12:50 pm
Jen Jie from South Slope says:
John Boy the swan was taken by the ACC on Friday 3/26. He was dead and cremated by Tuesday 3/30. No explanation of cause. No testing for poisons or toxins. The swan-on-swan attack story is complete BS. I talked to Susan, the woman who called the ACC about JB. She said he was weak and curled up in fetal position, but with no signs of attack wounds or any lost feathers.
After everything that's happened, testing the wildlife for cause of death should be a minimum. How many more dead animals need to turn up before they'll do their job?
I'm glad this reporter has continued to follow up on the deteriorating situation at the lake. We all have to be vigilant, take photos, and report what we see.
April 5, 2010, 3:28 pm
Deb from Ditmas says:
The results of this water testing mean nothing. After the dead animals, etc., were found in a place which I will call the "killing fields," the lake was drained for three days, then refilled. Eugene Patron admitted this to a Times reporter the other day. Furthermore, the water was tested from a spot near the Peninsula Meadow, 200-300 yards away from the killing fields. Patron obviously has no idea if those deaths were "normal" or not. By making up facts, covering up a possible criminal dumping, and baselessly attributing the swan death to "nature," Patron is providing fuel for conspiracy theorists. I hope the park changes their policy to truth and honesty. Luckily there are lots of caring park visitors to keep them on the straight and narrow.
April 5, 2010, 4:32 pm
Rick from Windsor Terrace says:
I'm outraged that the Parks Department is taking such a lackadaisical attitude toward the health of the wildlife and park ecosystem, not to mention the health and safety of park-goers.
April 6, 2010, 12:01 am
Len from Fort Greene says:
What the parks department calls clean, is a far cry from what any decent living soul would call clean.
The standard of care for the lake is so low.
April 6, 2010, 10:38 am
Peter from Windsor Terrace says:
We have another garbage dump, this one in Brooklyn, that the administration could turn into a park.
April 6, 2010, 10:42 am
LINDA from PARK SLOPE says:
It makes it more difficult to teach my children to be caring young nature enthusiasts, when they see the condition of Prospect Park Lake.
April 6, 2010, 10:49 am
Arthur from Brooklyn Heights says:
Mr. Patron has succeeded in exposing how clueless those in charge are and how inadequate their response is. This explains everything. Why the animals die in the lake in the spring in a city park.
April 6, 2010, 11 am
Richie rich from parkslope says:
when i was in high school i voluntered to work for the parks dept and let tell you in 1 word about the Parks Dept. the corrupt management and the full time workers not educated.
April 8, 2010, 1:26 pm
ignatius from east newyork says:
I have been fishing in prospect park for the pass 30 years and I tell you the water clarity was never ever like this . It use to be clear as your drinking water coming out from your forcet I lie not to you . You would see the bass in their nest spawning with blue gill trying to eat the bass eggs . The quality of the water start to get dirty in the 1990's I was told that they poured chemical in the water to kill the frag mite because it was evasive . They were staving the frag mite of sun light to killed it by pouring chemical in the water so that you can't see below the water so that the frag mite will not grow . That didn't work so they used heavy equipment to root out the frag mite that seem too costly for them so know they used giant plastic garbage bags to covered the frag mite along the lake to deprive it from getting any sun light . If you may have noticed along the shore line giant garbage plastic bags covered the frag mite to killed it and its working . Don't let them full you they know exactly what's going on .
Aug. 2, 2014, 5:48 pm

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