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July 7, 2009 / Brooklyn news / Park Slope / Meadows of Shame

Who’s to blame for the dirty park? Read on!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Offering an explanation that sounds like it came from an old Arlo Guthrie song, the Prospect Park Alliance says the fabled greensward was so filthy over the long holiday weekend because there was no place to put the garbage!

Hours after The Brooklyn Paper reported on the disgusting condition that followed the hordes of barbecuers and freedom-celebrating park-goers on July 4 and 5, Prospect Park Alliance spokesman Eugene Patron offered this “Alice’s Restaurant”–style explanation.

“The Parks Department had a sufficient number of cleaning crews working all weekend,” he said. “But on Saturday [July 4], the Brooklyn dump was supposed to be open, and it wasn’t, so the drivers had to go to the dump in Queens.”

And that dump had limited hours, too, Patron said, leaving workers unable to swiftly get rid of all the garbage. Plus, its distance from Prospect Park meant more time for garbage truck drivers on the road, rather than in the park.

A backlog ensued, leaving the park in a horrific state for much of the weekend.

As you might imagine, this did not go unnoticed. The disgusting condition of the park was Topic 1 in the Slope for most of the holiday.

“The garbage left [near] Ninth Street and Parkside Avenue is beyond disgusting,” reader Josie Marino told The Brooklyn Paper. “There is no excuse for folks using the park as their backyard … but the real stupidity is that there are not enough garbage cans in these popular areas.”

Marino suggested that police should write more tickets. A Brooklyn Paper reporter saw an officer in a Cushman scooter not writing summonses near the Ninth Street entrance to the park on Sunday, despite dozens of illegal barbecues set up in non-barbecue areas.

The park was back to its normal self by midday Monday.

Patron said that the city’s normal big Sunday cleanup could not be accomplished until Monday because park users were already picnicking — and creating more garbage — as workers fanned out on Sunday morning.

“It’s very difficult to clean the park and have large vehicles moving around when people are already in there,” he said.

As a result of the filth, the Prospect Park Alliance is “looking into” a “carry in/carry out” policy that would ask users to take out whatever they bring in.

“It’s something we are considering,” Patron said. “It amazes me that people will carry in 50 pounds of picnic stuff, but they look at you as if you have two heads if you tell them to carry out the 10 pounds of garbage they create.”

A Sanitation Department spokeswoman said that the Parks Department should have been aware that the garbage dump on 50th Street, which is run by a private company, would be closed on July 4, a federal holiday.

“Check with the Parks Department about why they didn’t know that,” said the Sanitation spokeswoman, Kathy Dawkins.

We did just that, but found an agency that didn’t want to dump on its colleagues at Sanitation.

“There may have been a misunderstanding, but the big picture is that there were huge throngs of people in the park this weekend, said Parks Department spokesman Phil Abrahamson. “I really don’t want to get into why the dump was closed. But cleaning the park is a huge challenge during the summer and when the weekend was over, the park was cleaned properly.”

The whole mess is reminiscent of folk singer Arlo Guthrie’s album-length single “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” which details, at great length, how he was once arrested after illegally dumping the refuse from a particularly large Thanksgiving feast at the aforementioned eating establishment.

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was updated to reflect a comment from the Parks Department.
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Reasonable discourse

al pankin from downtown says:
the excuse given by the prospect park alliance is straight out of a professor corey sitcom answer. maybe if these knuckleheads didn't allow the park to become BBQville they wouldn't have so much trash to clean up, wow, that was hard to figure out...get rid of the director of the park and bring in someone who will restore the park as it was meant to be , a park, not an outdoor dump.
July 7, 2009, 1:06 pm
arleen from mill basin says:
don't blame sanatition blame the pigs that leave their trash all over for someone else to clean bring back the old litter campaigns to remind the pigs to not litter etc
July 7, 2009, 2:09 pm
Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
How does Central Park stay so clean?
July 7, 2009, 3:06 pm
sid from Boerum Hill says:
central park isn't that clean. and they have private extra money that is diverted from other parks. The fees people pay to use the park partially go to fund the Central Park Conservancy which hires extra help. But certain parts of the park are just as dirty...
July 7, 2009, 3:34 pm
Sam from Bay Ridge says:
Everyone should just pick up their own trash. Not enough garbage cans close by? Walk the 150 feet to the next one.

WHAT IS SO COMPLICATED AND DIFFICULT ABOUT PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!?!?
July 7, 2009, 3:37 pm
Dog Walker from Windsor Terrace says:
No excuse! They do not enforce the BBQ rules. They did not happen to mention that little tidbit The park now says they are thinking of telling the people to take their garbage when they leave the park, we who use this park have been saying the same thing to the alliance for over ten years. The won't enforce it anyway.
July 7, 2009, 7:34 pm
Colin from Park Slope says:
If there were as much fining for littering as there is for parking, there would be no problem. Notice how having police standing around the subway reduces the number of metrocards on the floor.
Unfortunately, most people are pigs and need to have a threat of some form of punishment before they stop.
July 10, 2009, 10:18 am
Pat K from Park Slope says:
What happened to enforcing the Restricted BBQ rules they seemed to have done it for at least several years under Tupper Thomas. When i walked the Meadow Sunday Morning it was dotted by black BBQ holes and garbage, I guess they are timid now that the Park is setting record numbers again, but a better reason to enforce it and cut back on the daytime rats running rampart again. But as in the postings many people just don't get it about disposing of their garbage,I;m sure that weekend the baskets were overflowing with garbage, at least those to attempted to use them. With the economy and use of the park a new strategy should be looked at. perhaps NO BBQ's.
July 10, 2009, 10:12 pm
Chicken Underwear from Park Slop says:
Sid, I have been in Central Park on many Sunday afternoons and have never seen the pails overflowing.

I think that the problem with police enforcement of littering is that the agenda of the Police Dept. is to keep crime stats low, not keep the Park clean
July 12, 2009, 7:25 am

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