After a year of heavy use stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, Prospect Park is launching a new program to keep Brooklyn’s Backyard in ship-shape ahead of the summer season.
The initiative, dubbed Re:New Prospect Park, aims to keep the greenspace clean and well maintained, with a focus on trash management, park improvements, and volunteerism.
“Starting from last March the park has been absolutely so well used, and it’s been such a respite for so many people,” said Sue Donoghue, president of the Prospect Park Alliance, the nonprofit steward of the park. “But all that love takes its toll and we really felt it was important as we think about this spring and this summer that we are prepared and putting the resources necessary to really help to care for and maintain the park — because we know we’re going to be facing a good deal of usage again this summer.”
A combination of heavy use and budget cuts put the park in a tough spot last summer — one it hopes not to be in again, according to Donoghue.
“Last summer we really struggled to have the resources to adequately maintain the park because of significant cuts to the Park’s Department budget, and then by necessity, we at the Alliance also had to cut our budget,” she said. “The impacts of those decrease in resources were significant and immediately noticeable in overflowing trash cans and that kind of thing.”
The initiative will see the park partner with job training group Ace New York and receive funding from e-commerce giant Amazon.
To curb trash pile up the park faced last year during a summer of large crowds, Ace New York crews will provide rubbage pickup services on peak weekdays and weekend evenings through October, and an Amazon representative said the tech company was particularly interested in helping pay for improvements to the east side of the park.
“Amazon heard that the Alliance is particularly focused on improvements to Prospect Park’s East side, adjacent to the neighborhoods of Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens,” said Carley Graham Garcia, Amazon’s New York City head of external affairs. “We were excited that our support helped this underserved section of the park, while creating local employment opportunities.”
Another of the initiative’s tenets involves improvements to park infrastructure and greenery. Broadly, spruce-ups are planned for lawn areas, restrooms, and barbecues, while specific renovations are planned for the Lincoln Road and Children’s Corner bathrooms, new benches and landscaping are planned for the Drummer’s Grove, and new grills and furnishings are planned for the Picnic House and Bandshell barbecue areas.
A third pillar of the initiative will be an emphasis on volunteer efforts, according to the Alliance, with an expansion of volunteer opportunities including a “Green and Go” kit for anytime cleanups and the return of the “It’s My Park Monday” program.
“It’s so important to support your local park and be out helping to maintain it,” said Donoghue. “It’s been such a vital part of people’s experience during this pandemic.”