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Neighborhood parents and nannies are holding their noises this summer as Greenpoint’s liquored-up vagabonds are using a McCarren Park children’s playground as their own personal toilet.
“Last week, I saw poop by the sprinklers — there were flies all around,” said Shelly Smith, who was watching over her young charges at the Abate Playground near the corner of Lorimer Street and Driggs Avenue. “They’re using that area to change their clothes. Whenever you go in the back of the playground you see poop and pee there.”
A group of middle-aged men has been sleeping on park benches near the playground. Mostly, the men keep to themselves, but there is often some friction.
“One of them stumbled into my son’s stroller on the sidewalk near the playground’s entrance,” said one Greenpoint mom who declined to give her name. “He apologized, but it still happened. I just find it visually displeasing. Some of them are passed out and they urinate on the trees. I don’t want my son crawling around where they peed.”
One of the inebriated men asserted he is “not a pedophile” and that he uses the sprinklers in the playground only to wash himself.
“If it is extremely hot, I use it to take a shower,” said Isaac, who did not give his last name. “Is it a problem for me being there? I don’t think it is a problem.”
Residents disagree — and more than 100 park users complained to officials about the filthy conditions at an Open Space Alliance meeting two Wednesdays ago.
“This lovely pile has been sitting on the playground next to the equipment for at least two days,” said Greenpoint parent Robin Hagert, who posted several photographs of passed-out individuals and human feces on the social networking site. “No one has cleaned it up. So sad!”
North Brooklyn Parks administrator Stephanie Thayer said that maintenance workers would lock up Abate Playground on weekend nights after dark, and parks workers would clean up the play areas vigilantly.
Some community leaders are sympathetic to the inebriates, most of whom have places to live in Greenpoint.
“We are working to get beds dedicated to these guys in the winter months,” said Rami Metal, a liaison to Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint). “They’re not all homeless, even though they look homeless. Sometimes they have a place to go, but they’re too drunk to go there, or they get kicked out, or they prefer to pass out in the park.”
And Greenpoint minister Ann Kansfield, who feeds many of the McCarren men at her weekly soup kitchen, said parents need to show some patience.
“Everybody poops — poop happens,” said Kansfield. “There are people who are sick and suffering may not be aware they are not cleaning up their own poop.”
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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