Prospect Park’s 63-year-old kids fishing contest will get the hook, and dozens of other programs will be slashed or saddled with new fees, thanks to dramatic budget cuts unveiled last week by the Prospect Park Alliance.
The gutting of the annual Macy’s Fishing Contest tradition, which last year reeled in more than 3,500 people, was the most dramatic cut, but the list also includes a “modest” admission charge for adults at Lefferts Historic House; and the elimination of some educational programs at the house and at the adjacent Audubon Center, where kids currently enjoy science, nature and crafts programs.
The Alliance, which oversees operation of the park for the city, said the changes would reduce the group’s $10-million budget by three percent, or $300,000.
The cuts come just five months after former Department of Sanitation Commissioner Emily Lloyd took over an Alliance at a crossroads and under fire for tardy trash pickups and last year’s federal slaughter of 300 geese.
Before making the cuts, Lloyd reviewed the budget submissions of each park department, but did not hold any public hearings, which are not required by law because the Alliance is a registered non-profit.
For now, the Alliance’s focus must be on maintaining a “clean and safe park,” said spokesman Eugene Patron, who added that the group would seek “other ways to connect children with nature.”
But ending the decades-old fishing contest is disappointing to kiddie anglers, who have gleaned confidence from being outdoors — like first ever-female winner, Sarah Murray, who told The Brooklyn Paper in 2009, “Girls can play any sports — and they can be just as good as guys.”
In place of the contest, the park will offer smaller “clinics” to teach kids about fish, Patron said.
Borough President Markowitz, who kicks off the fishing contest every year and has called it, “a rite of passage,” said he was disappointed in the budget cuts.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said.