Angry Prospect Park-goers fear the second coming of a giant music and food fest in Brooklyn’s backyard will leave the green space worse for wear — just like they say it did last year.
Park activsts claim that the Great Googa Mooga, which will return to Prospect Park for its second run on May 17, damaged the park’s Nethermead field, which was scattered with large dirt patches and full of tire-track depressions from the tractor trailers brought in to load and unload equipment. Neighbors claim that the greenspace still shows signs of the destruction wreaked by the 40,000 lovers of food and music, such as bare swatches of dirt
“There is very clear, evident damage to the Nethermead,” said Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident Seth Kaplan, who attended last year’s inaugural GoogaMooga. “My concerns are that the damage from last year hasn’t been fixed and here is the festival coming back again.”
Superfly Productions, the events organizer, has expanded this year’s extravaganza into a three-day festival with food stands for 85 restaurants and musical performances from 20 bands, such as the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, and Matt and Kim. The festival will be held from May 17 to May 19 and is expected to bring an estimated 90,000 patrons. Tickets are still available for Friday at $54.50. Saturday and Sunday are sold out.
“It’s going to be a disaster,” said Josh Carr, a lifelong Windsor Terrace resident. “It’s not a sustainable event to have in the park especially if they are not going to put the park back to its natural condition afterwards.”
Prospect Park Alliance spokesman Paul Nelson admits that the greenspace did suffer damage after last year’s GoogaMooga. But, he said it was repaired and paid for by Superfly. He said that the truck-damaged grass was reseeded and that the Wellhouse Drive, a pathway leading to the Nethermead that suffered cracks and ruts as a result of the event, was recently repaved.
“Superfly has shown to be very responsible taking care of the Nethermead,” said Nelson. “Some damage did occur during load-out, but was taken care of within a few weeks.”
GoogaMooga was brought in as a way for the Prospect Park to generate funds to help pay for operations, maintenance and free programming, according to officials. The Alliance will make at least $75,000 off of this year’s festival.
“We are testing the idea that an event like GoogaMooga can be developed in a way that will provide additional support for the care of the park, to the benefit of all park users,” the Alliance wrote on its website. “Part of the learning is to see if GoogaMooga can provide activities of broad interest and contribute resources for the park without causing long-term damage to the Nethermead or excessively disrupting other activities.”
The website also states that the Alliance will document before and after conditions “more extensively than last year to assure that conditions end up back where they started.”
Still, neighbors say the damages have yet to be fixed. And they worry about the many trucks and tractor-trailers moving in and out of the greenspace in the days before and after the enormous event. Superfly co-founder Rick Farman is confident that if the park faces any wear and tear from this year’s event it will be restored.
“We’re fully committed to leaving the park as we receive it,” said Farman. “We want to have as little impact on the community as possible and be a positive force for both the community and the park.”
Farman also promised that this years Great GoogaMooga will be a better experience than last year’s blowout which saw shortages of grub and booze, and extremely long lines. Organizers even gave full refunds to “VIP” ticket holders who shelled out $250 for the exclusive pass, which actually wasn’t so exclusive.