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Heights residents demand Bridge Park get crowds under control after police shut Pier 2 again • Brooklyn Paper

Heights residents demand Bridge Park get crowds under control after police shut Pier 2 again

Day in the park: The large crowds in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Tuesday forced NYPD to shut part of the green space.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Brooklyn Bridge Park is in foul trouble!

The corporation that runs the waterfront park must finally do something to keep hordes of rowdy kids from flooding a residential Brooklyn Heights street on their way to and from the green space, demands a local leader after cops shut part of the meadow for the second time this year on Tuesday, sending hundreds of teens down Joralemon Street.

“It’s insane … the park doesn’t take any responsibility,” said Linda DeRosa, president of the Willowtown Association, which is comprised of residents living in the southwest pocket of Brooklyn Heights. “They’ve done the same procedure time and time again, and it doesn’t work. It’s time for the park to re-evaluate how they operate.”

Police closed the entrance to Pier 2 — which houses basketball and handball courts and a roller rink — around 4:10 pm on Tuesday due to a “crowd condition” according to a police spokesman. They subsequently closed off the adjacent greenway and entrance on Old Fulton Street once they were filled to the brim, too, he said.

Neither police or the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation gave details on why cops closed part of the meadow, but one kid told the Brooklyn Eagle that multiple fights had broken out.

And a 15-year-old girl alleged that several people punched and kicked her as she was on Doughty and Furman streets by Pier 1 around 3:03 pm, knocking her to the ground. While she was down, a female acquaintance stole her phone and MetroCard, according to police.

The closure sent hundreds of kids out of the park and onto Brooklyn Heights streets such as Joralemon Street as they walked back Downtown — an episode that neighbors say has become all too familiar.

Residents demanded last year that the park get its act together and do something to alleviate the heavy foot traffic of kids — some of whom they say vandalize property and harass locals — after cops shut the pier five times in less than a month. The issue was revisited when authorities had to close a slice of the park during an unseasonably warm February day this year.

DeRosa and the park’s Community Advisory Council ultimately came up with a crowd-control plan for the brownstone-lined street, including dispersing kids to other entrances such as Atlantic Avenue and hiring a youth coordinator to oversee activities on the pier. It was supposed to go into action at the beginning of the month but hasn’t, according to the group’s leader.

“We put forward recommendations that could avoid this sort of thing and they haven’t been put into place,” said Peter LaBonte, who is president of the volunteer council. “Unless they put this stuff into place, it’s hard to say how bad it’s going to be this summer.”

Borough President Adams has gotten in on the action too — he allocated taxpayer dollars to fund security cameras along Joralemon Street, though that deal has not been finalized. The 84th precinct also added 23 more cops to the park beat last summer to help tackle the problem.

Kids are off from school this week and the community centers at the public housing complexes are closed to coincide with the break, leaving kids with nowhere else to go, according to LaShawn Doyle, who helps run the Ingersoll Houses recreation hub and sits on the advisory council.

On Tuesday, the park was hosting a three-on-three basketball tournament when police stepped in.

Honchos at the corporation say they are aware of the issue, but are just waiting for new president Eric Landau to come aboard next week to hash out a plan to fix it, according to a spokesman.

But conversations up until now have had little impact, said DeRosa, who says it’s high time for the corporation to finally take steps to deal with the disruptions at the park that regularly prompt the police to shut it down.

“I know my group goes down there, we have a dialogue, and they don’t care, they don’t want to make changes,” she said. “If my house is on fire every five months for three years, and I have to keep on calling the fire department, after three years, it’s like maybe I should fix my house or something,” she said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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