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

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Photo gallery

1/9
Jump for joy: Seven-year-old Lydia Jones played double Dutch at the Nickelodeon kids' fest.
2/9
Play station: Children hopped on trampolines set up along the Nethermead in Prospect Park for the bash.
3/9
Around and around: Youngsters hula hooped until they couldn’t anymore.
4/9
Tiny feet: Young fans packed the Nethermead for performances by teen stars Ariana Grande, pictured, and Big Time Rush.
5/9
The aftermath: Prospect Park regulars say that the Nickelodeon kids fest further damaged the central Nethermead meadow.
6/9
Mowed: On the morning after the Sept. 21 Nickelodeon event in Prospect Park, much of the Nethermead was left covered in debris.
7/9
In the rough: Prospect Park activists say that these indentations were left in the grass after the Nickelodeon extravaganza.
8/9
Stake-out: Stakes hammered into Prospect Park's Nethermead meadow to hold down festival equipment were still lying there the next day.
9/9
Trashed: Plastic bottles and other debris was found littered all over the Nethermead on the morning after Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play.

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 nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.
Updated 10:15 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Miscellaneous nonsense from The Nethermead says:
Kids having fun? In a public park? They should be inside on their iPads and watching TV.

Too bad the Alliance doesn't know what they are doing either- what pathetic leadership. They have no clue how to run a park. We need Tupper back!
Sept. 25, 2013, 7:15 am
Johnny from Park Slope says:
"for-profit private land grab?" chill out & get a life dude.
Sept. 25, 2013, 10:19 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
I agree with Misc nonsense.

Shame on the BK paper for reporting something to generate artificial hype and anger. Residents aren't mad about this (I live on the park, am not mad, no actual person I've spoken to even cared). I'm happy 35,000 kids were outside playing and not inside in front of TV or out vandalizing or just being bored.

Holy cow people complain about the stupidest stuff! (actually, no one's complaining, except maybe one person you randomly found or made up for a quote).

This was a great event. Grass, well, it'll grow back. It's GRASS! Besides, in a month or so, it'll be under snow. And when kids trudge over that snow covered grass and ruin it, are we going to say locals are mad that kids are playing in the snow? I'll wait to skim over that article come December.
Sept. 25, 2013, 10:23 am
Teddy from PH says:
Seriously?! Why does this paper hate kids having outside time?
Sept. 25, 2013, 11:19 am
Tom from Brooklyn says:
Get rid of the grass. Then it won't get damaged.
Sept. 25, 2013, 2:21 pm
Ben from Park Slope says:
Dave: I'm a resident. I use the park 3-4 times a week. I'm pretty mad about this. I'd be happy to talk to you.
Sept. 25, 2013, 2:26 pm
S from Slope says:
I also live in Park Slope and have two kids who love playing in the park, no corporate-branded encouragement needed.

I think these events are terrible. They cause too much damage and render a large part of the park off-limits to the public or anyone else who think a spur-of-the-minute trip to Prospect Park should require advance planning and the procurement of tickets.
Sept. 25, 2013, 2:30 pm
Jim from WT says:
I live near the park, have a child, use the park with said child, frequently. The reality of NYC is that space comes at a premium, so the ability to use space such as the Nethermead, should come at a high premium. If the money generated by these events are critical to the operation of the park then we (park users) should see a direct and incremental benefit to the park. My fear is that this money earned by hosting large event will be added to the budget and not be incremental and instead be in lieu of the typical park budget.

Besides why can't these large stages and tents be set up on the pavement?
Sept. 25, 2013, 2:57 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Nobody was against this event being there, it was how they were treating that section of the park that they were against. It would be nice if whoever is hosting the events be responsible for cleaning up everything, and restoring that section to the way it was before. As for grass, it does grow back, but the time for it isn't fast, and those who planning the event should be responsible for making sure it's back. There really needs to be new policies on this, and not just in Prospect Park, but in all of them as well. Seriously, I don't think that we need a special event such as World Wide Day of Play to mention how kids should be getting an active when this is being done all the time making it just as meaningless as Earth Day and Arbor, not that I am against the idea, I just don't think that there needs to be a special day for these when so many who doing such on a regular basis.
Sept. 25, 2013, 3:08 pm
Related to all of this from Park Slope says:
I just want to toss out (and I wish I took pictures) that there was an event put on by the Police (or auxiliary) at the 15th street entrance. It was nice of them to give away their weird chinese food (huh?!) and little rubber ducky bath toys, but that evening and the next day the whole area was LITTERED in trash. The cops didn't clean up a thing! WTF!

As for Nick --I was in the park yesterday on a run (on the grassy areas, not pavement, hit 9 miles) and did not see any areas I'd consider trashed, so maybe this destruction healed already (like someone above said, grass grows) or this is being blown out of proportion. I saw the pics posted here, and the park looks nothing like that now.
Sept. 25, 2013, 3:54 pm
JOhn from Park Slope says:
If 35,000 kids and their families really made use of the park, then I think it's fine we locals had some fenced off areas for a few days.

You folks really have no idea how badly kids need to do things like this. Yes, some stages should be put on cement, but this was not all stages, this was kids running around in the park. Now we're saying inner-city kids can't play on the grass because there are too many of them? wowzers, no wonder the country has gone fatty.
Sept. 25, 2013, 3:56 pm
BK from Windsor Terrace says:
I guess if the Nethermead is always brown, or being restored, or getting ready for the load in for the next event, it does raise the question of whether it should not just be paved over. Maybe better concrete than muddy ruts? We could call it the Netherconcretemead.
Sept. 25, 2013, 4:22 pm
KS from Windsor Terrace says:
Just looked over the most recent (FY 12) 990 form for the Prospect Park Alliance. For that year their annual revenue was $10,799,680 and operating budget $12,231,810 meaning they had almost a $2 million shortfall. I suspect these events will only become more plentiful as city budgets are slashed and people have less money to donate. I only hope they're able to charge these big companies a lot more than the small change they've been getting. For reference here's the link http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/11-2843763/prospect-park-alliance.aspx
Sept. 25, 2013, 5:32 pm
Bea from Kensington says:
Not sure why all the brouhaha. Every year Bryant Park pulls up the sod and lays down a skating rink. No one complains.

If an organization rents out the park for an event, they should be responsible for repairing the damage. Prospect Park is a large park, and to lose a small (yes, small) portion of it due to the event is a small price to pay for income towards the operating expense of keeping our playgrounds, and the rest of the park funded.

This whole thing feels like a NIMBY whine-fest.
Sept. 25, 2013, 7:24 pm
BK from Windsor Terrace says:
I think that is pretty much what I suggested - let's pull up the sod on the Nethermead and put down a big old roller rink! Bring in some music and it will be a party every weekend. This will give kids a chance to finally have fun in the park, unlike how it is now, as a boring old park!

BTW, at least the PPA caught on and charged the Nickelodeon people $175,000, which is twice as much as the Googa Moogas, for half the time. That goes to show the $75,000 that Googa Mooga paid was way way too low. I think they need to keep cranking up the charges till they find what the market will bear. As long as we're selling out let's get the big bucks!
Sept. 25, 2013, 8:06 pm
Tom from Brooklyn says:
BK from Windsor Terrace, it's $150,000, not $175,000.
Sept. 25, 2013, 9:15 pm
pakistan atomic energy jobs from gre64001xz7@hotmail.com says:
Subsequently, after spending many hours on the internet at last We've uncovered an individual that definitely does know what they are discussing many thanks a great deal wonderful post.pakistan atomic energy jobs
Sept. 26, 2013, 3:13 am
Pete from Park Slope says:
A great City should be able to pay for
it's great Parks.
This new idea that somehow private resources should pay for everything is a devils bargain.
It's unreliable, unsteafy, and
it invites misuse.
Sept. 26, 2013, 9:11 am
billy d from williams says:
Leave it to the Pakistanis to ruin the park with their atomic energy jobs! Pave them all over, then pave some more.
Sept. 26, 2013, 10:08 am
johnny boy from da hood says:
What moron would subject their children to a fenced off area that had 35000 freeloaders squeezed into it ..

I was walking on PPSW and stopped to speak with a woman that had just left the event, she said that she and her child were disappointed by the overcrowding and enormous lines for events and refreshments, that they had to endure .
As I entered the event area, there was an enormous exodus marching along the Central Drive and most didn't appear to be in a good mood .
Maybe next year the Alliance , if their still here will combine ,Googa Mooga, Tropfest and Nickelodeon on one SCORCHED EARTH DAY, to leave the rest of the year to the original purpose of PARK, which was a place of solitude and tranquility .

I wonder what it cost taxpayer to cover the police salaries and overtime generated by these events er
Sept. 26, 2013, 11:58 am
Diane C. from Original Park Slope says:
People need to get a grip. It is a park to be used for recreational purposes. If you are bothered by these events, the park is big enough you can find a tranquil area of it i am sure. Kids need these kind of activities to get them away from the TV.
Sept. 26, 2013, 1:15 pm
S from PPW says:
Gosh, if only there were some sort of big public space where kids could run around and play then perhaps we wouldn't need things like this Nickelodeon-sponsored play event.
Sept. 26, 2013, 2:26 pm
Bob Marvin from Prospect Lefferts Gardens says:
At the very least the organizers could have left a small path for residents of the east side of the park to have gotten past the Nethermead to the interior. For the first few days of Nickelodeon's set up I ignored their employees, who told me I couldn't get to the Ravine or the Peninsula, but most people seemed to heed their instructions and leave. Starting the Thursday before the event Nickelodeon actually had a gated chain-link fence which prevented even those like me, who had the nerve to disregard instructions, from passing by. IMO that was unnecessary and only increased bad feelings about the event.
Sept. 26, 2013, 3:57 pm
bored at work from Carroll Gardens says:
The City has moved away from its historic responsibility to fund parks through the Operating Budget funded through taxes and granted quasi-not-for-profits like the Prospect Park Alliance and the Central Park Alliance the authority to manage the Parks on OUR behalf. PPA needs to raise the difference between what the City provides to operate the park and what it costs through donations, rentals or sponsored events.

Clearly, though, the process that the Alliance uses to vet these events (if there is one) is flawed. Ticketed events, even if free, prevent other park users from enjoying the park during the time set aside for the set up and event. Then, the repair of the damage caused takes these areas away for an even longer period of time.

Really, the sponsor of the event or its audience is not the issue. It is why the Park finds itself in this position. But it is quite rich to me that it takes Nickelodeon and a crass commercial event to draw 35,000 kids and families to the park on a nice summer day?

@Diane C - cant tell if you are being sarcastic or not, but if not, dont you know that TV is what drew these kids to the event anyway.

The
Sept. 26, 2013, 5:23 pm
The News Junkie from Boerum Hill says:
I'm a life long, born and bred Brooklynite. I love our grand park. But I'm also a realist. They have to raise funds somehow. The Parks Dept. clearly doesn't have enough money to cover the costs of day to day operations, let alone much needed repairs and renovations. What would these angry neighbors suggest the Alliance do? Also, the folks who make up the Alliance are Brooklynites, too. They care about our beautiful park just as much as anyone else.
Sept. 26, 2013, 8:38 pm
JDB from PLG says:
How many folks who are complaining actually are members of the Alliance? If more people joined maybe the budget shortfall wouldn't be so large.

I did not get tickets to the event but somehow my kid was still able to enjoy the playgrounds and hundreds of other acres of the park that day.

Are we supposed to feel bad that kids had to wait on long lines to enjoy the free event? Wow - entitlement.
Sept. 27, 2013, 10:39 am

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