From The New York Shitty Inbox: McGolrick Park Needs Help!
Filed under: 11211, 11222, Criminal Activity, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn
A woman we’ll call “L” writes (in an email addressed to our Parks Supervisor, Parks Supervisor for Brooklyn, the 94th Precinct, Community Board 1 and elected officials— among numerous others— and sporting no less than thirteen pages of signed petitions attached):
My name is (excised) and I am a mom to 3 boys. We have lived in the neighborhood directly surrounding McGolrick Park for almost 10 years.
To begin, I am presenting you with a petition of 124 signatures of people who have the same concerns about McGolrick Park that I am about to voice. While collecting these names I was surprised to learn just how angry most of these people are. I heard horror stories of park experiences and livid complaints from every signer. Their specific issues ranged from trepidation about lights in the middle of the park being out or off for a very long time, to frustration at having to call 911 or the 94th precinct dozens and dozens of times in the past 6 months, to a report that a neighbor was shot with some kind of pellet gun just last week while small children were also walking near him. Although these issues are specifically focused on McGolrick Park, it is common knowledge that similar problems exist at many of the North Brooklyn parks, namely McCarren and American. All this being said, this petition is not an indictment of park workers, that is the men and women who thanklessly clean up the disgusting and unnecessary messes of the park. They, like all the residents and park-goers, need the support of park management to fix the greater problems that exist.
When my family first moved to the McGolrick area in 2002, the park was an absolute wasteland. . . filled with blood, puke, abusive drunks, needles and dime bags. It was disgusting and I hated taking my young son there. At its worst, I even witnessed an 18 month old fall into an open sewage drain in the center of the park. It was all awful. But then Gardener Dave Wysocki came to McGolrick, wonderful Dave, who transformed the park from wretched to amazingly beautiful, an urban paradise that became a daily part of my growing family.
Since Dave’s departure earlier this year, McGolrick has rapidly degenerated. This has lead to three major areas of concern that I would like to outline:
Firstly, there are groups of homeless, drunk men who take up residence in the park or on the benches of its perimeter at various times. I must insert here that for the past 6 weeks their presence has decreased significantly, perhaps due to the in-park suicide of a presumed homeless man in late September, which I must add is not the first violent and unnecessary death of one of these men in the park. I am dismayed that it takes someone dying to enact change. But returning to my original point, these groups often leave garbage, glass, and most importantly human excrement and blood throughout the park, even in the playground area. There are also instances when they have been aggressive towards others in the park. I personally was once accosted by one man who attempted to enter my car when I pressed the automatic door opener. As I was putting my 3 kids in the car he hovered there demanding that I give him money, until a passer-by, or as my middle son called him, a super-hero, came to our aid. This same man detained my babysitter in the same way as she sat on a bench of the park. Plainly said, these men pose health and safety risks that should be addressed in the short-term by better clean-up and more police patrols to keep them out. But more importantly, social services need to be called upon to offer more pro-active outreach to these populations. Until these men receive support such as counseling, rehabilitation, and housing, their residency in the park will continue.
Secondly, there is a group of young teenagers who have caused considerable damage to the park. They throw and break glass bottles, tip full garbage cans in order to jump them with their bikes, they have destroyed an entire row of benches, and then when repaired, they destroyed the benches again. They have set fires, and cut down a small tree. Again, the best way to stop this behavior in the short-term is to have more police patrols in the park, but in the long-run we need better mentoring and outreach programs for at-risk youth of this community. These kids in particular have been running the streets for about five years which says to me that either their families neglect their welfare, or their home-life is so bad that they can’t stand to be in their houses. In any case, Greenpoint could surely use a strong and present social action group that is specifically focused on the needs of the pre-teen and teen populations. Furthermore, we need more outdoor spaces that speak to the needs of this age group and more community centers that offer positive and safe ways for them to spend their time.
Lastly, under Dave Wysocki’s leadership McGolrick Park became a shining star of the Greenpoint, a true community asset that drew hundreds of new families and residents to this area. Not only did he make the park beautiful with additions of many flowers, tress, and shrubs, he educated his staff on how to care for the gardens properly. He offered nature-based workshops for the small children of the neighborhood, involved the community in the revitalization of the park, and most importantly created a strong relationship with PS 110. By doing so he offered those children special educational opportunities and a sense of positive ownership in this land. It is an absolute travesty that all of his hard work, so quickly went down the tubes. McGolrick needs park management with the passion and commitment that Dave showed. That is the backbone of the health and safety of the park, and without it I fear that one day, I’ll hear of another hanging body or see another baby’s body floating in a sewer drain.
All this being said, I’m sure that as the cold weather approaches these issues will naturally decrease. However, I am also sure that as soon as spring arrives, residents will be dealing with these same grievances again, UNLESS the residents, park management, local law enforcement, the community board, social services, and local politicians make plans of action over the next winter months for how to improve the current conditions at McGolrick Park.
I and so many of my neighbors have been given the run-around and have been shut down in pursuing our goal of bettering the park. Park management has said to contact the 94th; the 94th said to contact the community board; the community board said to contact the Parks Department. This is a vicious cycle of irresponsibility that is getting us nowhere and the residents of this community will stand for it no longer. A much-appreciated, first step in the right direction would be a well-advertized “town hall” meeting with all of you who are addressed in this letter, to happen as soon as possible. (Perhaps such a meeting could take place at the Lutheran Church on Russell Street between Driggs and Nassau.) We want the opportunity to truly be heard, since we have been ignored for so long. We want to know how you specifically plan to resolve these issues. . . and I can assure you that we are ready to hold you accountable if solutions are not developed and implemented.
I, like so many people of this community, look forward to hearing your responses and hope that our concerns for the health and safety of McGolrick Park will finally be addressed. Thank you.
I suppose this is as good a time as any to remind folks that Community Board 1’s Parks and Waterfront Subcommittee convenes this evening at 6:30 p.m.!
Once again, you must sign in by 6:15 in order to speak!*
Parks & Waterfront Committee Meeting, Community Board 1
November 16, 2011 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Community Board 1 Office
435 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211
*Apparently the Parks and Waterfront Committee’s public meetings unlike those of, say, the Public Safety and Transportation do not allow the public to sign up and speak. Mind you, this is despite the fact this right is established by charter by our fair city. Go figure.
Photo Credits: Pile of human feces with asswipe was found at this very park last week by yours truly.