Prospect Park to institute carry-in, carry-out trash policy in 2020

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The Prospect Park Alliance will institute a carry-in, carry-out garbage policy affecting certain areas of the park next year.
File Photo

The non-for-profit caretakers of Prospect Park will ask visitors to take a greater hand in maintaining Brooklyn’s Backyard beginning sometime next year, when certain areas of the park will be subject to a “carry-in, carry-out” garbage policy modeled after the National Park Service’s like-named program, according to a spokeswoman for the Prospect Park Alliance. 

I can confirm that we are planning to pilot a carry-in, carry-out trash program in the park’s Lookout Hill,” said Deborah Kirschner.

The upcoming pilot program is designed to help protect wooded, highland areas of the park, where work vehicles have difficulty maneuvering and litter poses a danger to the natural environment, according to Kirschner.

Prospect Park’s upcoming garbage program is in the early stages of development, and is being modeled after carry-in, carry-out policies utilized by the National Parks Service, in which trash cans are removed from natural areas to encourage visitors to manage their own litter and free up state resources for other projects, according to a City Lab report.

However, fewer trash cans hasn’t always translated to less litter, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, and Kirschner said that the Alliance’s program would be accompanied with a strong public education campaign in an effort to increase compliance.

The spokeswoman could not confirm whether the Alliance would reduce garbage pickups in the affected areas, but said that garbage cans would be reshuffled to centralized locations within the park and that the aim of the new policy is not to cutback on maintenance.

“The idea behind carry-in, carry-out is to centralize the garbage cans in key access point areas – it does not necessarily mean fewer cans or fewer pickups, just more strategic placement of cans and garbage removal points,” Kirschner explained.

Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue unveiled the upcoming carry-in, carry-out policy to volunteer members of the Prospect Park Community Committee — a coalition of local organizations that gather on a monthly basis with the Parks Department and Prospect Park Alliance to discuss issues concerning Brooklyn’s Backyard — at a meeting on Nov. 20, where some members were skeptical that park patrons would do their part maintain the green space.

Stanley Greenberg, a longtime member of the Brooklyn Bird Club, pointed to the proliferation of dog poop around the park, along with the city’s failure to police the prohibition on cars in Prospect Park as a sure sign of the plan’s impending failure.

“This kind of policy doesn’t work for dog walkers, or drivers, so I don’t expect that it will work for people who litter,” said Greenberg.

But others were pleased at the new direction the Alliance was taking, claiming it’s high time that the people who love and enjoy Prospect Park do their part to keep it clean.

“We can’t have a garbage can every 10 feet,” said Seth Kaplan, a member of the Prospect Park Community Committee. “It’s giving people a new frame of reference and saying, ‘just bring it in and take it out,’ and that’s all.”