Smoke out! New signs will tell you where to barbecue in Prospect Park

Smoke out! New signs will tell you where to barbecue in Prospect Park
Courtesy of Anne-Katrin Titze

Prospect Park officials have put up ten new “No barbecuing” signs and have hired extra weekend enforcement in the borough’s most popular green space in an attempt to douse the illegal grilling that happens there during the summer.

The Hammurabian offensive comes in the wake of a holiday weekend that saw barbecuing rampant in portions of the park where it is not allowed, including shady spots along West Drive, nooks across from the baseball fields and on the northeast side of the lake.

With the new signs in place, lawless grillers won’t be able to play dumb when officials begin handing out tickets — which could happen soon and will cost violators $50.

“Slowly but surely the public is getting it,” said Eugene Patron, a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance. Park Rangers gave verbal warnings instead of writing tickets over the Fourth of July weekend to residents found cooking where they shouldn’t be, he explained. “We’re trying to help people to understand the rules.”

Prospect Park has 15 legal grilling areas — including lakeside and picnic spots — but the green oasis can become a smoke-filled free-for-all during the summer, with hundreds of park-going families setting up grills haphazardly on busy holiday weekends.

The signs were installed after non-grilling park-goers complained about everything from fire hazards to wildlife threats and litter caused by the grills — and after park officials amped up efforts to educate folks on how to dispose of charcoal (not in the lake!) and where to set up grills (not right under trees!).

A total of 20 bright green signs — 10 of which also note the location of proper barbecuing areas — were a product of grillers complaining they didn’t know where they could and couldn’t barbecue and park-goers explaining how illicit barbecuing hurts the park’s wildlife.

“It’s positive progress…for the flora and fauna of Prospect Park,” said park watchdog Anne-Katrin Titze.

Designated barbecue areas are adjacent to entrances at Third Street, Grand Army Plaza, Ninth Street, 14th Street, 10th Avenue, Parkside Avenue, Vanderbilt Street, Center Drive and Parkside Avenue at Parade Place. They can also be found on an interactive map on the Prospect Park Alliance website.

Barbecuers are setting up all over Prospect Park, prompting officials to post signs about illegal grilling. Here, Terrence Gillford cooks up some chicken with his daughter.
Photo by Bess Adler