Williamsburg residents fear that where there’s smoke, there’s going to be, well, more smoke.
Some neighbors of Cooper Park were already fired up about charcoal fumes, trash, and crowds in the green space after the city installed a barbecue pit with eight grills — and now they’re up in flames over the fact park rules will allow patrons to bring their own Webers.
“I think it’s totally irresponsible that they are allowing an unlimited number of grills and smokers,” said Carrie Perry, who lives near the Maspeth Avenue park. “I will be smelling barbecue in my living room.”
The city implements a bring-your-own-grill policy at parks that boast grill pits, such as Prospect Park and Red Hook’s Coffey Park — a fact that many anti-grilling activists only realized as they protested summer searing at three community meetings last week.
“When we held our ground at zero [grills, the city] dropped the bomb that anyone can bring grills anyway — so what negotiation were we really having when the number of grills on any given day is unlimited!” said Perry. “What a joke.”
Visitors can now bring as many grills as they want to Cooper Park, so long as they stay in the designated area in the northeastern corner and don’t come in groups of 20 or more (larger crowds require permits from the city).
North Brooklyn Parks honcho Stephanie Thayer and an aide to Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D–Williamsburg) told residents at a recent community meeting that the city originally planned to add 10 grills — then reduced the number to eight due to neighborhood opposition.
But the city may add two additional grills later this summer, and the Parks Department is preparing to add another eight grill stations next year as part of a $2.6-million Cooper Park renovation if the cooking equipment proves popular.
Fans of outdoor food preparation, including residents from Cooper Park Houses who lobbied for the grills, flocked to the green space to debut the cookware last Saturday — and they promised to fight for more grills.
“I’m disappointed we only eight,” said grill fan Karen Leader. “We had an agreement for more.”
Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.