Park in Fort Greene is anything but

Park in Fort Greene is anything but
Photo by Eli Rosenberg

Volunteers once again collected dozens of pounds of broken glass in Fort Greene Park this Saturday — the second weekend in a row that locals had to clean up a park that they say is increasingly neglected.

“It’s insane what people leave in the park,” said Shana Darabie, the founder of Broken Window, her volunteer group. “The [park workers] are overwhelmed.”

The side of the park facing Brooklyn Tech HS and the running path around the entire perimeter are particularly heavy-hit with shattered glass.

Danielle Levoit, a first-time volunteer, said that the glass was particularly bothersome to her as both a jogger and a dog owner.

“We just got a dog this summer and it is definitely giving me another thing to worry about,” she said.

Other locals say the glass is so bad that they have stopped coming to the park altogether.

“It’s the reason I never come here,” said Felicity Crew, who made an exception to volunteer in the clean-up crew.

Another group of frequent park-users is ticked off about the glass as well: moms.

“You have to watch the kids all the time,” said Jaqueline Bush, who was in the park with her 1-year-old daughter. “It certainly affects whether or not I have a relaxing time.”

Locals say that the city has been slow to respond to complaints.

“I called the other day and they said they were sending somebody out immediately, but they didn’t,” said Ariella Ben-Dor, a local mom. “Nobody really picked it up — except the parents in the end.”

City officials are quick to defend their efforts. The Parks Department has three to seven workers in the park every day, said Borough Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, adding that Fort Greene Park is especially difficult to keep clean because of its many slopes.

“Our staff has been systematically cleaning these areas, and we will continue to do so,” Jeffrey said in a statement. Other parks officials did not return inquiries for comment.

The problem may be linked to cuts that have seen the Parks Department’s budget cut by 25 percent since 2010, reducing full-time park workers citywide by almost 500 people.

In Fort Greene Park, the cuts meant the sacking of a full-time gardener this past winter, despite the efforts of a group of local citizens — the Fort Greene Park Conservancy — who offered to help pay the gardener’s salary.

Charles Jarden, the chairman of the Conservancy, says the park is suffering from the loss.

“It definitely has an impact,” he said. “That was one-extra pair of full-time hands that was removed that was addressing this issue.”

So for now, the hired hands are volunteers. By the end of the day, Darabie and her three volunteers filled a burlap sack with glass. The previous weekend, they picked up 50 pounds of shards.

Darabie says she had not originally named the group Broken Window with a glass clean-up in mind, but as a reference to the “Broken Windows” theory, which holds that small acts of urban disorder like vandalism add up to chaos on a larger scale.

“Living in New York, you just start to not notice; it’s what you see everywhere,” she says about trash like broken glass. “Hopefully we can get it closer to not being a problem.”

Broken Window has another clean-up set for Sept. 25. Call (718) 510-4623 or e-mail [email protected] for info.

Joe Coleman joined the volunteer crew cleaning up messy Fort Greene Park on Sunday.
Photo by Eli Rosenberg