July 5, 2010 / Media / Brooklyn news / Podcast / Meadows of Shame

Our most disgusting ‘Meadows of Shame’ video — ever!

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We’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff in Prospect Park this summer — entrails, blood, chicken heads, dead turtles, swan-on-swan violence (alleged!) — but nothing compares to this morning’s disgusting conditions on the lakefront in the southeastern portion of the park.

Yes, Parks Department workers are already on the scene, cleaning up the mess, but there’s no doubt that this latest “Meadows of Shame” incident is going to renew calls for changes in park rules and enforcement.

For now, however, enjoy our latest video footage from this morning by clicking the screen above or this link.

In response to our video, on Tuesday, the Prospect Park Alliance and the Parks Department sent over this joint statement (edited only for punctuation):

“The July 4 holiday weekend, fireworks display, and the extremely hot weather together made for a triple-whammy as huge crowds flocked to the city’s beaches, pools and parks,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

“More than 2.4 million went to the city’s 14 miles of beach over the three-day weekend, with more than 1.1 million on Monday alone, watched over by a large municipal lifeguard corps. The 54 outdoor pools were filled to capacity, and tens of thousands more made use of spray showers in over 450 parks. Massive crowds also arrived at all the traditional picnic and barbecue spots.

“At Prospect Park, clean-up crews were out working in the park every day of the long, holiday weekend from 5 am until midnight as thousands of park goers enjoyed picnicking and barbecuing from early in the morning to late in the evening. The clean-up continues all day today and throughout the week and the summer ahead, and we ask for New Yorkers to pitch in by carrying trash to the receptacles provided and leaving it neatly placed next to the receptacles if they fill up.

“Don’t dump your coals near a tree because it will kill its roots. Recycle your bottles and cans. And remember, every time you re-use a water bottle, that’s one less plastic bottle going to a landfill.”

But New York City Park Advocates, an independent group, had a different take:

“Its amazing that no matter how many articles highlighting the lack of adequate maintenance and park enforcement personnel about Prospect Park are published, the city still refuses to address it,” said the group’s executive director, Geoffrey Croft. “This is a disgrace. Having inspected parks this weekend, including the privately maintained Central, Madison Square, High Line and Bryant, I can assure you these filthy conditions did not exist.

“Of course it is the responsibility of the park patrons who create these disgusting situations. They should be given summonses. However, you need the personnel to do this which Prospect Park, like most parks simply do not have. The Central Park Conservancy removes 5,000 pounds of garbage daily — daily. The point is, it is removed in a timely manner.

“Our elected officials just passed a parks budget that allocates a fraction of what our park system needs. There is no accountabi­lity.”

Updated 9:30 am, July 7, 2010: Updated with a statement from New York City Park Advocates.
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Reader Feedback

Brian B from Chicago says:
One thing I did notice in the video besides the horrible mess was the absence of any real trash receptacles. If we expect the park to remain clean the city should step up it's efforts to at least give people the opportunity to keep the park clean. Or maybe the city's strategy is just to sweep through afterward and clean it up. Don't know.
July 5, 2010, 11:48 am
Prospect from Park says:
I don't understand why they don't have undercover park agents there to slap people with huge tickets as they try to walk off with three bags worth of trash strewn all over the ground. They have undercovers for off-leash dogs, why not for litterbugs?
July 5, 2010, 12:43 pm
J from BK says:
July 5, 2010, 1:18 pm
Meredith from 11211 says:
Truly vile. I have to agree with the first commenter about the lack of garbage receptacles. With scrap metal prices still through the roof, its no wonder they get taken and sold for scrap. NYC Parks Department should check into some heavy plastic ones proudly emblazoned with the NYC parks logo, and distribute them throughout all the parks that need them. Then they can stop blaming park visitors for being slobs. It isn't like a National or State park out in the wilds where people will haul out their trash. Its NY! If there isn't a can every 200 yards and some enforcement around while folks are wrapping up their weekend festivities in the park it will continue to be this way. It's pretty shameful. If it is a "strategy" by parks to clean it all up later, they could use a good accountant to crunch the numbers on their methodology.
July 5, 2010, 2:14 pm
trace from park slope says:
same as it ever was. In the eighties they used us, the Park Rangers, to help clean-up - I remember the special treats, the used diapers in the trees..

Man, this aged creation, this Park, made a lot of people happy on July 4 - isn't she a real lady!

and the Park worker 'cleaning up '- in the time it takes me to write this note, that girl got exactly one paper plate slowly into a bag..perhaps it was in slow motion?
Really - if they can chase dogs around for being off leash, they can issue littering fines..Just do it, Tupper Thomas's successor - just do it..
July 5, 2010, 5:24 pm
Publius from Bklyn Heights says:
Prospect should be Carry In, Carry Out, like many parks that pull that off successfully. If Park patrons can carry in all their litter, they certainly can carry it out.

The problem is a significant amount of BBQers don't care about their park. Likely not popular to say that, but it's the truth.

Now the misplaced bashing will start on the DOPR and Alliance. Go for it kids.
July 5, 2010, 10:22 pm
Winston Smith from Poop Slope says:
Yes the problem is the lack of trash receptacles and the fact that the park administrators let the trash pile up over a weekend.

But I am wondering, when was the last time anyone got a ticket for letting their dog run wild during non-wild times or in a place where dogs should not be allowed to run wild?
July 5, 2010, 10:24 pm
Colin from Windsor Terrace says:
Prospect Park Alliance President Tupper Thomas does not care about the existing park and its lake. The number one person responsible for this ongoing destruction of the park's environment is Tupper Thomas. The nerve to ask for Volunteers, when she is a highly paid park employee, running a non-profit Alliance. The Prospect Park Alliance members and workers, should be ashamed to be associated with her failed policies. She is ruining and running the park down, day-by-day.
July 6, 2010, 9:16 am
Gina from Windsor Terrace says:
I'm with Publius on this one: it's the people who use the Park, but I don't know much about "Carry In, Carry Out' policies and where they've been used successfully.

I don't think it's the administration---Tupper Thomas resuscitated the Park from it's condition in the 80s and before and continues to do a good job from what I can tell.

-There do need to be more trash cans, yes.
-There do need to be more frequent pickups.
-There should be more ticketing for littering offenses. Park workers are way more vigilant with off=leash offenses than littering violations (I own a dog and see this for myself). There is a disconnect there.

Call 311 to complain. Call the Alliance. Ask about more trash cans and ticketing litterers.
But don't blame Tupper Thomas. She's done a great job in her role otherwise, IMHO.
July 6, 2010, 10:30 am
Caroline from Park Slope says:
Gina from Windsor Terrace needs to take a closer look at the dreadful condition the park is in, especially around the lake.
Ms. Thomas is paid to care for the park and her barbecuing policy without enforcement has done more harm than anything else. She allows trees to die. The landscape lakeside is eroded to such a state, that she should hang her head in shame. The lake waters are left with uncollected garbage polluting the habitat. We do not need apologists for a person who is unable to do the hard work necessary to stop the decay.
July 6, 2010, 11:31 am
Ron from Kensington says:
To say that Tupper Thomas should be lauded for her efforts is a bad joke.
The decline is under her stewardship.
Tupper's folly The Lakeside Profit
July 6, 2010, 12:31 pm
Mary from Kensington says:
Every single summer the same horrors are repeated in Prospect Park. Every year people are dumbfounded. Every year we ask why this keeps happening with no decisive countermeasures on the part of Park Administrators or the Park Alliance. Is it incompetence? Is it a total lack of care for the Park's environment and the animals living there? Why does this keep happening every weekend every summer? Park workers might be busy cleaning up this weekend's mess but what about the decades worth of accumulated garbage laying at the bottom of the lake and in areas where trash trucks don't go? The rats are cleaning up better and much faster than the park workers! Shame on the so-called Park Alliance. Shame on Tupper Thomas who is retiring and leaving behind a legacy of shame. She can't leave soon enough for the Park's sake! Replace her with someone who is intelligent and who cares or the Park will become another junk yard like the little girl in the video said. What a bad example for children to see such disgusting horrors when they should be playing in the grass and having fun.
July 6, 2010, 12:39 pm
Sarah from Park Slope says:
More dumpsters (not cans) will help, but the bigger problem is the people who just don't care or know any better.

I spend hours every day (rain or shine) in the park and this is a problem all summer. I really wish they would send more officers (parks or NYPD) to ticket for littering, which should be easy.

I walked around the lake Sunday afternoon and saw this mess being made--people were constantly just throwing any and all trash on the ground with no attempts to contain it. Easy to catch in the act. There need to be tickets and trash bags handed out on weekends. If they could get the trash under control, surely the massive rat population in the park would shrink. And yes, there are tons of rats there.
July 6, 2010, 1:27 pm
pissed prospect heights guy from prospect heights says:
terrible to see this happening over and over again! how come it never happens in central park? GRILLING SHOULD BE ILLEGAL IN PROSPECT PARK!!! and it's probably cheaper to have park police monitoring anyone leaving trash behind, than having a mob of people cleaning it up.

this may be terrible to say, but the type of people typically doing this damage to the public park, are only making the guetto label stick harder and harder.

there's gotta be a way to protect the park and keep the riff raff that causes damage to our park out of it!!!
July 6, 2010, 4:01 pm
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
The carry in-carry out idea is not viable in an urban park.

Does the Park do its sanitation thing during the day, or only at the end of the day/at night? It seems pretty clear that in a population-dense, urban setting, the only plausible way to keep a park clean is to have pickups throughout the day (or at least afternoon) and evening--how could they not have figured this out?
July 6, 2010, 6:03 pm
trace from park slope says:
no-one else sees this as evidence of celebration of Amerika among some very poor people - they were celebrating, by the hundreds, with their families ! In the middle of sweltering Brooklyn, they were sitting under a tree in a park, their kids running free. How great is that? Hire more park workers to clean up. Hand out trash bags. It's not like you can't SEE the trash!.
And yes, the Park is THE SAME as it was in the eighties..Same people using it to celebrate..Same clean-up from the parks workers over the week. The same.thanks Tupperr you didn't create a racial exclusion zone in the middle of Brooklyn.
July 6, 2010, 7:22 pm
Riddler from Park Slope says:
Answer me this? Why is carry-in, carry-out not viable in Prospect Park. If people can carry in 100 lbs. of stuff, why can't they carry out their 50 lbs. of garbage? The problem is not infrastructure, it's people who don't care enough to clean up after themselves for the next person.
July 7, 2010, 5:44 pm
scribbler from Prospect Lefferts says:
Since when can't the public be made to take responsibility for what they do and how they behave. Certain groups just don't give a damn about anything or anybody. There is such a rebellious air about some of the people who use the park.I sure their neighborhoods are littered with garbage too.

If you EXPECT someone to clean up after you shouldn't you leave a tip? I doubt these folks pay enough in taxes,etc. to even be considered leaving a tip.

I say fines written by those with the fire power to back it up,because i have seen park employees chewed up and spat out trying to enforce picnic table reserving permits.It's a shame.Such hostility.
July 7, 2010, 10:08 pm
richie rich from parkslope says:
prospect park is a toilet/garbage damp. avoid it unless you want to get mug or step on sh*t.
July 8, 2010, 4:56 pm

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