Prospect Park trashed again after Nickelodeon kids fest, park lovers say

Prospect Park trashed again after Nickelodeon kids fest, park lovers say
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A Nickelodeon extravaganza in Prospect Park last weekend further wrecked a massive meadow in the heart of Brooklyn’s backyard, claim park regulars who say that the beloved field has endured too much abuse from big-ticket events.

The cable channel’s free, ticketed Worldwide Day of Play event drew 35,000 excited kids and their families to the park’s Nethermead field on Saturday, but the rumpus left the lawn covered with litter and scarred by bare swatches of dirt, according to park preservationists.

“They did a number on the Nethermead yet again,” said Prospect Lefferts-Gardens resident Noel Hefele, adding that the field is back to looking as it did after the two-day Great GoogaMooga music fest left parts of the park fenced off for nearly the entire summer.

Park lovers said that the hordes of Nickelodeon fans playing sports, jumping rope, and rocking out to pop bands, along with the equipment brought in to support it all, tore up the turf majorly and that the repeat destruction represents a brush-off of everyday park users by the people in charge.

“It is so disheartening after events like these to see the blatant disregard for our backyard,” said Randi Lass of Windsor Terrace, who regularly volunteers to cleanup the green space. “I thought after GoogaMooga perhaps they learned a lesson about the scale of events in Prospect Park.”

Park officials said that they are still in the process of assessing whether the Day of Play damaged the Nethermead and pointed out that events like the Nickelodeon shindig help fund the everyday operation of the park.

“We have a mission to bring different types of events to the park for the public and we have a responsibility to restore, maintain and preserve the park,” said Eric Landau, spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance, which manages the park. “And these events do bring in revenue, so it is sort of two-fold.”

Big events like GoogaMooga and the movie party Tropfest generate funds to help pay for park maintenance and free programming, according to officials. The Alliance made $75,000 on a rental fee from GoogaMooga, $41,500 from Tropfest, and $150,000 on a rental fee from Nickelodeon.

But, cash influx or no, some park patrons say that events that require barricades and ticket-takers simply do not belong in the green space.

“The Prospect Park Alliance’s idea about proper uses for the park are loathsome,” said Windsor Terrace resident Jolanta Benal.

The Nethermead was completely fenced off for five days while Nickelodeon set up for the blowout, and for another two while the kids network broke down the sets. Plenty of park-goers are upset about the state of the park before, during, and after the play day, but some take it a step further, saying that the cable network-sponsored bash was a symbol of corporate excess that had no place in Frederick Law Olmsted’s public playground.

“We are witnessing a for-profit private land grab in the heart of Brooklyn,” said Hefele, adding that he worries even more massive events will continue to take over the field.

Landau said that if the Alliance determines that repairs need to be made to the turf Nickelodeon is required by contract to dole out whatever money it costs to fix it, just as GoogaMooga organizers paid to reseed and repair the extensive damage that their event caused.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.