From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: McGolrick Park, Worse Than Ever?

In an email addressed to Assemblyman Joseph Lentol’s office, the 94th Precinct’s Community Affairs Office, Brooklyn Parks Commissioner (Kevin Jeffrey), Community Board 1’s Parks Supervisor/Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn’s Executive Director (Stephanie Thayer); City Councilman Steve Levin’s office and 50th Assembly District Democratic Leader (Lincoln Restler), among others a lady named Holly writes today, July 2nd, 2012:

I am writing this as a follow-up to the December 9, 2011 meeting concerning conditions at McGolrick Park.  While it was said that a subsequent meeting would be held in April 2012 to readdress the issues presented, that of course never happened.  And now seven months later, McGolrick Park is in worse shape than ever.

I will try to keep this letter as brief as possible, because I am very tired. . . tired of constantly volunteering and fundraising for a park that is continually destroyed, tired of continually pointing out problems that need to be addressed only to have those concerns fall on deaf ears, tired of being forsaken by the Parks Department and local politicians (with the exception of Lincoln Restler) who obviously do not care about the well-being of the park itself and the community that surrounds it.

I am attaching pictures I took today of the degenerating conditions of the park, and they should speak for themselves, but I would like to make the following important points:

1) The middle entrance on Monitor Street between Nassau Ave. and Driggs Ave. has become a residence for local drunkards.  The area reeks of urine and alcohol and there are copious amounts of garbage and liquor bottles strewn about the area.  They have literally lived in that unmaintained, isolated “meadow” for the past two weeks.  It is disgusting and absolutely unacceptable. (Photos attached. I have taken the liberty of assembling them into a slide show which graces the beginning of this post. — Ed. Note.)

2) The benches at the center of the park have been destroyed for probably the tenth time since the December meeting.  Graffiti is rampant. The Belgium stone surrounding the Monitor statue has been vandalized. The bulletin board has been broken – again.  Garbage is openly thrown around the center of the park by the group of destructive and abusive teenagers that continue to haunt the center of the park.  (Photos attached.)

3) There are trip hazards throughout the park.  My group, The McGolrick Park Schools Alliance, donated and laid 1 ton of new top soil in the spring, filling in several of the larger trip hazards, but many remain.  The other day my 2 ½ year old son was running through one of the lawns and suddenly fell directly on his nose.  It was a large hole obscured by grass that made him fall.

4) Many people of this community blame the seasonal workers for the poor maintenance of the park.  It is true that you can often see these workers sitting in the shack or on the benches.  But let me be clear that the park workers are NOT to blame.  If they are not working to their full potential then it is only because they are not receiving sufficient supervision and guidance.  Moreover, after volunteering with some of these workers I was appalled to discover that they don’t have one functioning pincer and no work gloves – they have to buy their own safety supplies, and that is a travesty.  So I gave them a bag of work gloves which is apparently more than their employer is willing to do.  Also, I want you to be aware that these workers are verbally abused by aggressive teens and drunks on an almost daily basis.  These workers, who literally have to clean the shit of the park, are treated as such, and they are given no support or power to improve their working conditions/our park.  There should be a protocol put in place whereby workers are given the ability to call for police support at even the inkling of being threatened, or as soon as they see vagrants or vandals.

5) As has been true for years, the bathrooms of McGolrick Park are absolutely disgusting.  Parents resort to allowing their children to relieve themselves on the perimeters of the playground rather than risk exposing their kids to the horrible bathroom conditions.  This of course presents another set of health and safety issues.  Moreover, urine and feces from resident drunks can still be found/smelled throughout the park.

6) The center pavilion is in absolute disrepair.  Bird nests have destroyed the woodwork and so much graffiti has been haphazardly painted over that it looks atrocious.

7) I feel it should be known that following the December 9 meeting, and announcing that I would be starting a community group for McGolrick Park, I received a call from park officials “encouraging” me to work with The Friends of McGolrick instead of starting my own group (which would target children and families of our local schools).  In addition, I was told that any police reports concerning the park should be left to Morgan Pehme (Mr. Pehme is the head of the Friends of McGolrick Park Group— Ed. Note) to make.  So essentially, I was being asked to give up my fundamental rights as a citizen to accommodate the needs of others.  Thankfully, I stuck to my guns and refused to work with “The Friends” as I clearly knew from the start that the group was impotent.  To my knowledge they have not held one clean-up or community event within the park, and what is more infuriating is that they were handed $2500 from Exxon Mobil that has not been used or accounted for.  This is money that should have been used for the benefit of our park and community and no one knows where it has gone.

This will be the last time I will reach out to those civil servants who are responsible for maintaining the health, safety, and beauty of our local park.  I no longer wish to see my hard work and energy go down the drain because the people in charge just don’t care.  However, if you are a community member reading this letter and are as outraged as I am, please forward this to others, and contact those officials that this email is addressed to.  Tell them that you agree with these words – maybe then, someone will be held accountable and our park and neighborhood can change (back) for the better.

Holly

Here’s the deal, folks: Holly is not the only concerned citizen who is disgusted with the deteriorating state of this park. It was brought to my attention after last week’s Public Safety Committee meeting by a life-long Greenpoint resident and yet another parks patron has seen fit to do some documentation of her own. Her focus was on public defecation. Without further ado, here are her findings.

I honestly do not know what I can say that I have not said many times before— but I will do so (again) anyway. Until we as citizens, our civil servants and elected officials take up the matter of the homeless (and addiction) problem here honestly and realistically, I do not see anything changing. I was both saddened and disgusted when I happened upon a man who was clearly in need of medical help today in plain view of the McCarren Park Field House and the recently (re)opened pool. The latter of which, not surprisingly, has been receiving a great deal of police attention the last two days.

UPDATE, 6:51 p.m.: There appears to have been another incident at the McCarren Park Pool. Click here for Gothamist’s take.

UPDATE, 7:47 p.m.: Holly gets a response— and responds!

From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Dispatch From The McCarren Park Pool

A person we’ll call “E” writes (in an email entitled “McCarren Pool/Hot Tip!” at 6:33 p.m.):

the pool is lovely. up until the lifeguards tried to get someone to stop doing something. lifeguard jumped in the pool. another got pushed in. fracas! punches were thrown, not too many people involved. they kicked everyone out and closed the poop an hour early. 2 squad cars and 2 unmarked cars were on the scene. alas, no photos.

Interesting/relevant fact: We used to have a Parks Enforcement Police “PEP” Officer in our district. The powers-that-be got rid of him. Happy Friday.

UPDATE, 8:33 p.m.: Here’s the 411 per 94th Precinct’s Community Affairs office:

No riot… Just a fight involving 3 people and then a lifeguard tried to intervene (and) got hit by accident (no injuries).

Thus, the person witnesses saw taken away in an ambulance was a lifeguard— and the above missive from the 94th intimates his injuries were not severe. Does this mean this incident isn’t worrisome? It is. What transpired today raises (in my opinion) a very important question:

Exactly what IS the protocol at the McCarren Park Pool for handling emergencies— be it a fight, a medical emergency, accident, etc.?

Unlike McCarren Park (or any park here, for that matter) pool users probably do not have cell phones handy to call 911 if /when an emergency arises— so who does? Thoughts/information, anyone?

P.S.: While I am fairly certain “E” meant “pool” in the third sentence, it gave me an opportunity to share one of my favorite parts of Caddyshack (and there are many). Such is one of the perks of being one’s own editor.

P.S. #2: Why is it whenever something bad happens at McCarren Park it is located in Greenpoint?

I’d really like to know.

 

From The New York Shitty Inbox: On The Subject Of Greenpoint Parks

June 28, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

In the last 24— no, make that 12 hours— I have received not one, not two, but five Parks-related inquiries. For the sake of simplicity I am consolidating them in this post. Without further ado, here we go!

A chap we’ll call “C” writes:

hey heather
who’s responsible for the park at the end of manhattan ave? they haven’t emptied the trash in a while and it’s getting messy up there

I hear the pool is awesome! have you been?

Before I proceed to my answer I would like to share what I saw with my own eyes today at this precious piece of public space in north ‘Point.

Among the assorted rubbish you just saw, gentle readers, were:

  • A “weewee” pad (used)
  • Fireworks (which are illegal in New York City)
  • Empty beer and liquor bottles (alcohol consumption is prohibited in our public spaces)
  • A great many fast food/take out containers

The lattermost I suspect are the reason rats have been spotted here recently. (NOTE: C is not the only person who has complained to me about the filthy conditions at this park.). They, as well as their winged comrades (pigeons) and raccoons (which do inhabit the area) LOVE this stuff! The previous having been written:

I have yet to make it to the pool, C— although I have heard it is rather nice. What’s more, it is interesting that you bring the subject up. You see, our Parks Supervisor has allocated a great deal of her attention and manpower towards the opening of the McCarren Park Pool. In fact, one person counted around thirty Parks employees sprucing up the area in anticipation of our fair Mayor’s visit today. Not being terribly adept at multitasking, our Parks Supervisor seems to have overlooked/forgotten about the Manhattan Avenue Kayak Launch (This its proper name, so please take note. This will come in handy shortly.).

How do I bring this matter to the attention of the proper authorities?

you ask? Well, this is where it gets interesting! You see, “C”, north Brooklyn has been graced with a very special public private partnership. As a result, our Parks Supervisor (a New York City employee) is also the Executive Director of our local Parks Conservancy/watchdog group: Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn. This strikes yours truly as being tantamount to entrusting the fox to guard the hen house but a number of people find this not only arrangement acceptable, but desirable. But I digress.

What you need to do first is call 311 and complain! At the end of the call you will be assigned a complaint number. Write this down. Last step: write an email outlining the nature of the complaint, with the complaint number you were issued by 311 and send it to:

Stephanie Thayer, Administrator for North Brooklyn Parks – NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation/Executive Director – Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn (OSA):  Stephanie.Thayer@parks.nyc.gov

NOTE: While Ms. Thayer supervises all parks located in Community Board 1, Community Board 1 will NOT field complaints about our parks. They will simply forward them to Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn (of which, as you will recall, Ms. Thayer is also the Executive Director). With that option off the proverbial tables, here are a few folks you should copy on the aforementioned email:

Kevin Jeffrey, NYC Brooklyn Parks Borough Commissioner: Kevin.Jeffrey@parks.nyc.gov
Steve Levin, City Councilman 34th District: slevin@council.nyc.gov

And last— but hardly least— Assemblyman Joe Lentol (whose constituent services are TOPS)! Mr. Lentol has a handy online contact form which can be accessed here.

TIP: Be sure to emphasize the Kayak Launch’s present conditions are conducive to harboring vermin and that criminal activity is being practiced/has come to pass there. It has been my observation these things tend to get attention. NEXT QUESTION!

A person we’ll call “A” writes:

howdy heather. hope you are enjoying this lovely summer. i am emailing to see if you happen to have the lowdown on transmitter park. i am curious as to when it opens.

I have been asked this (excellent) question by three people. Per someone in the know, I have learned that while the pier will not be ready until this fall, the plan is to open the park  in June or July (so eager Greenpointers can legally enjoy it). Obviously this has yet to happen. My advice, send an email to above-listed civil servants and elected officials and demand an answer!

I hope this post has been helpful and informative, A and C. Please keep me updated on what happens!

Greenburg Photos du Jour: McCarren Park

Today, having some free time on my hands, I decided to take a stroll through McCarren Park. What I saw (and smelled) was truly a feast for the senses. So much so I decided to take a breather at Jerzy Popieluszko Square. It was there that I had a most interesting conversation with a pair of gentleman regarding the deplorable state of our open space nowadays.

We all agreed that Jerzy Popieluszko Square was without argument the one of the nicest parts of McCarren Park to be found— but given what appears to be a lack of attention by our police and Parks Department it was rapidly becoming the worst. It was at this point one of these gentleman shared with me some very interesting information. Follows are the juicer bits for everyone’s edification:

  • The head honcho of Brooklyn’s Parks himself, Kevin Jeffrey, was purportedly going to inspect this very place today because…
  • a lot of people have been complaining about it.
  • One such person did so at the last 94th Precinct Community Council Meeting.

I told him I had in fact attended this very meeting and filmed it. He continued:

  • Due to a lack of volunteers, this park is being left open 24 hours now.
  • As a result it has become a homeless encampment.
  • The Parks Department is purportedly looking for volunteers to open and close this park and the person to speak to is Jose Urena.

To wit I gave this chap a couple of business cards* and asked him that if/when he sees Mr. Urena I would like to speak to him about this. From there my new friend recounted a few choice incidents he has witnessed recently.

  • The woman whose image graces the beginning of this post kicked a man in the head yesterday and that fighting has become a more or less daily occurrence.
  • The hideaway of choice for our local homeless/unhoused’s libations are garbage cans, e.g.; they stash them under the trash. One such chap, upon urinating into one such receptacle, proceeded to gingerly retrieve a urine-soaked bottle of vodka from it and take a swig. We both agreed this chap had these two tasks out of order.
  • Now they pouring vodka into water bottles so as to deceive the police.
  • He has spotted bedbugs on some of the benches. Given that Greenpoint and Williamsburg have a bedbug problem— and our homeless/unhoused (which will moving forward be referenced to O.H.U.; as in Our Homeless and Unhoused) glean clothing and furniture which has been discarded hereabouts I find this totally believable.
  • The O.H.U. have started to use the hose at Automotive High School to do their laundry. Once “washed”, these articles of clothing are either hung on the fence or on park benches— or both— to dry.
  • The area in J. Po Square (as I call it) adjacent to Automotive High School is the O.H.U.’s  lavatory (my nose can attest to this), although the men are not shy about simply urinating anywhere they please. The presence of women or children makes no difference.
  • He is starting to find used condoms in the morning.

It was at this point this gentleman, who should be noted sported a pack of cigars at his side, asked how I felt about the smoking ban in our city’s parks. Apparently (and despite scenes like this) a woman sitting 20 feet away took umbrage of him “lighting up”. She said it was bothering her. I replied that given what I have observed today I think there are more urgent issues than smoking to be found at our city’s open spaces. Then I felt something on my leg: something was biting me. I told my friend this and he showed me the source of what was afflicting me.

Here’s the deal, folks: I would like to see a handful of people to step forward and give Jerzy Popieluszko Square the loving care it truly deserves. If you are interested in starting a volunteer/”friends of” group for this clearly neglected/mistreated piece of public space please shoot me an email at missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. This is a fucking disgrace.

Miss Heather

P.S.: This one’s for you, Jon Stewart.

 

 

*Upon seeing my surname, he asked if I was Russian. After telling him that was a “hanging offense” hereabouts I assured him I wasn’t.

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