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Blue Monday in a dirty park

Ah, yes, it’s “chicken bone season” again in Prospect Park. Don’t recognize the term? Perhaps “Garbage Monday” is what you call it. Take a stroll this Monday morning if you have never seen it: the park starts the week filled with trash.

The trash cans overflow, water bottles, soda cans and doggie bags spill out, plus there are garbage bags piled high next to the cans. Many times those bags have been ripped open (by wild dogs, perhaps) and trash is strewn everywhere.

In addition to the overflowing trash bins, there are those who picnic in the park and do not even attempt to clean up after themselves. They leave the picnic table covered with used paper plates, the ground covered with leftover food and the whole area looking like a dump.

This is not a once-in-a-while occurrence, it happens every weekend (Memorial Day is the worst, so get ready!). But there is no reason why we should ever have a day when our park looks like a trash heap. It is simply unacceptable.

There are two problems with the trash situation, said Eugene Patron, a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance. The first is that the Parks Department doesn’t put enough money aside for trash collection (Sanitation’s jurisdiction ends at the entrance to the park). The second is that it is difficult enforce the clean-up rules.

Whatever the solution to the trash collection problem, it’s going to take money. More trash bins would help, but then we would need more trucks and more manpower to empty them. Last year, Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) secured funding for a new mini-packer, which is a Lilliputian garbage truck that fits on park paths. But even with a new piece of equipment, the trash collection is still playing catch-up with — and losing to — the trash.

Enforcement will take effort and vigilance on the part of the Park Enforcement Police. Any gathering of more than 20 people in Prospect Park requires a permit — and the permit stipulates that the holder is responsible for cleaning up the premises. Most people don’t get the permits (after all, they’re having a picnic, not a political rally!), but that doesn’t mean they’re not required to clean up. So what do they do? Many leave the area a stinkin’ mess.

The Park Police has to step up its patrol of the most-popular picnicking spots. That means the area around Ninth Street, for instance, and the wooded part behind the Picnic House. Anywhere there are tables or where grilling is allowed will need to be watched. Citations must be handed out to folks who do not clean up after themselves. If the 78th Precinct can give a hand (as it does with enforcing dog-leash rules), that would be even more eyes on the dirty people, and more tickets.

Short of civilian patrols, armed with plastic garbage bags to hand out to the weekenders, we have to rely on the Parks Department to clean our park and enforce its rules. So next time you see someone leaving without cleaning up, call 311. If the city doesn’t get the complaint calls, it won’t step up the effort to keep our park clean.

The Kitchen Sink

The Brooklyn Paper’s very own Nica Lalli will be reading from her memoir, Nothing: Something to Believe In at the Barnes & Noble right here in her “hometown.” Come hear all her family secrets and tales of godlessness on Thursday, May 24 at 7:30 pm. … The Fifth Avenue Committee didn’t get full support from its neighbors to build housing for people with disabilities at 525 Fifth Ave., but the organization did get the Local Innovations Support Corporation of New York’s award for being the “Champion of Community Development.” Fifth Avenue Committee was awarded the honor for the work it is doing in Red Hook. … Not all developers are as unpopular as Bruce Ratner. Some, like the Slope’s own Andrew Kimball, president and chief executive officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, get awards. Kimball will be honored with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Building Brooklyn Award on July 18 at the Steiner Studios. This year’s private sector winner is Joshua Muss, president of Muss Development. … Maggie Moo’s was closed for a week, but it is open for business again. The reason for the mysterious closure? Renovating the courtyard for outdoor eating. Now you can enjoy that $15 cone in the fresh Brooklyn air!

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