Another weekend of illegal barbecuing in Owls Head Park had some residents steaming, other residents demanding that the city create areas for permitted grilling and the cops just throwing up their hands.
On Monday morning, a typical post-weekend scene greeted visitors to the hilltop greenspace at Colonial Road and 68th Street: piles of trash, food and spent charcoal so disgusting that some residents don’t bother using their park.
“I never go to the park during the weekend because [all the grilling] is just too much,” complained one Senator Street resident. “It’s normally filthy, but Monday mornings are the absolute worst.”
The resident even had to stop her 23-month-old from picking up trash left behind by the picnickers.
“We paid a lot of money for our house, and it’s very upsetting to have my kids play in a park that’s filled with trash,” she added.
Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann reported that her office received a flurry of complaints on Monday morning. She knows that some Owls Head users want the city to set aside some space for grilling, but her loyalties are with the anti-BBQ crowd.
“Owls Head,” she said, “is not designed for barbecuing” because of its rolling hills and soil erosion problems.
That could explain why Community Board 10 has not asked the Parks Department to consider designating space for barbecuing in Owls Head Park — a first step towards legalized sizzling, said Phil Abramson, a spokesman for the agency.
“We are open to reviewing any potential proposals,” Abramson said, but none has been made.
Families who barbecue in the park think they’re being punished for the neighborhood’s reluctance to create a movable feast inside the park.
“What can we do if everything is illegal?” asked a grill jockey named Luis, who did not give his last name. “Stay home? We don’t have a backyard. Some of us don’t have what others have. I think they should enjoy their backyards.”
The NYPD, which could put a stop to illegal grilling, said it is reluctant to issue tickets.
“Who exactly lit the fire? Who do you write the summons to?” an NYPD source said. “You have to see it happening. If there’s a complaint, cops are instructed to tell the people that the fire needs to be put out.”
The drama playing out in Owls Head Park is similar to the mess that greets Prospect Park goers most summer Mondays, as workers struggle to dig out from the hoardes of grillers who take over the park every weekend.