Prospect Park ‘residents’ evicted — and their shanty is destroyed

Prospect Park ‘residents’ evicted — and their shanty is destroyed
Photo by Anne-Katrin Titze

Parks officers booted a homeless man from his elaborate, six-foot-tall house of twigs inside Prospect Park, then tore it down after neighbors complained about the existance of the shanty.

The shack — which was big enough to sleep three men and looked plucked from the movie “Cast Away” — stood next to the lake in Prospect Park near the Vanderbilt Street entrance for months. Inside was bedding; outside a small shovel and a tarp.

On Tuesday morning, three police officers stormed the encampment, only to discover its occupants had already left for the morning. Afterward, four parks officers pulled up in green trucks and workers began to rip it down.

“It was incredible,” said park watchdog Ed Bahlman, who discovered the shelter. “It was a big deal; the whole [parks] crew was there.”

It’s not the first time Prospect Park has doubled as a mini-lakeside campground for the homeless. In July, 2008, a city employee discovered the three-day-old corpse of a murdered homeless man near Lookout Hill, along with encampments strewn around the southwest side of the lake.

Nor is it the only time park-goers have demanded that the Prospect Park Alliance, which partners with the city, better maintain, enforce and respond to eyesores, such as animal corpses, and more conventional garbage.

If this case is any indication, the Alliance — which is now under the leadership of Emily Lloyd, who took over from longtime honcha Tupper Thomas this year — is starting to respond more swiftly: The shack was reported on Sunday; its residents booted on Monday; the structure disassembled on Tuesday.

Alliance spokeswoman Vickie Karp said that the park is, by no means, overrun by the homeless.

“People who have nowhere to go tend to end up in parks, and when that happens, we work with homeless services to take steps to address it,” she said.