LAST GASP: Presenting Newtown Barge Park Dot Com

June 29, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

This item was brought to my attention by Laura Hofmann, one of the founders of Barge Park Pals, the community watch dog/advocacy group for this park. She writes:

Is it common for concert organizers to set up a website for a “one time gig”?

I honestly did not know what to say. So I looked up the owner of this site instead.

So much for keeping it local.

Miss Heather

P.S.: I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this corker from Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn’s own web site:

Thanks to the efforts of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee (NCMC) and Barge Park Pals, a parkhouse with comfort station will be built in Greenpoint Playground. The small triangular playground is bounded by Franklin Street, Commercial Street and Dupont Street and is adjacent to the Newtown Barge Playground which is the only active park space in North Greenpoint (and yet Ms. Thayer et. al. saw fit to commandeer part of it for a concert. — Ed. Note.). The playground is heavily used and the comfort station is a long needed amenity.

So let me get this straight: it “is heavily used” and yet, Ms. Thayer, our Parks Administrator and Executive Director of OSA, told a reporter from the Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Arts this same park was (and I quote)  “underutilized”?

So which one is it, Ms. Thayer? Or by “underutilized” do you mean by those willing to pay $12.00 to enjoy a park their tax dollars are already (ostensibly) paying for?

Williamsburg Photo Du Jour: Two Ply

It’s refreshing to see that our Parks Administrator/”Parks Advocate” is taking neighborhood complaints about the lack of bathrooms at Barge Park (and elsewhere) seriously. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this. After all, this is the same person who saw fit not to notify the “Friends Of” group for Barge Park that this concert was going to be conducted at the park they represent. When queried about this her answer was (and I quote) they “had a lot on their plate”. Obviously.

Miss Heather

Greenburg Photo Du Jour: McCarren Park

If I had to pick one photograph to exemplify the state of our parks in north Brooklyn this would be it. A young girl sitting on a concrete ledge (which was created when our Parks Department, in its infinite wisdom, decided McGolrick needed this piece of fencing more) amidst bags of garbage and a bottle full of urine. All the while at Barge Park in Greenpoint the band played on. AND ON. It could be heard from several blocks away in any given direction.

Imagine, if you will, trying to throw a birthday party for a group of young children in the playground across the street from this?

I can personally attest that a group of young mothers attempted to do just this. Now imagine trying to do so while a gentleman on stage across the street is screaming the word “Fuck” at the top of his lungs. This did— indeed— happen. How our Parks Administrator— who also happens to be the Executive Director of OSA, Stephanie Thayer, lacked the foresight to know that throwing a concert across from a playground might be problematic is beyond me. Clearly she has other things on her mind. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say making money for OSA.

I know for a fact that a number of board members of OSA (which was in large part responsible for this shit show) have young children. It is not unreasonable to assume that some of them, had the shoe been placed on the other foot, would not have been very happy if this had happened during their child’s birthday party. In fact, I’d go so far as to say if their young ones were subjected to this “language” some of these individuals would raise holy hell. But therein lies the rub: the board members of OSA, having $3,000 a piece to spare each (so as to become board members in the first place) do not have to rely on public park space to have birthday parties for their children. They are able to afford other options.

I suppose some children matter more than others.

Miss Heather

P.S.: I suppose I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that Barge Park has been waiting for a field house (so as to furnish this park with bathrooms) for several years. The money was supposedly heir marked but nothing ever came of it. Yesterday I counted no less than five port-o-lets provided by OSA/the Parks Department for concert.

It’s very telling our supposed “Parks Advocate” saw fit to provide such an amenity to transient park users but somehow cannot find the wherewithal to provide lavatories for the people who use this park the other 364 days a year? Oh wait, I get it: concerts— not toilets— make money.

New York Shitty Day Ender: Hanging On The Telephone

Lest the sporadic postage of late has not been an indication, yours truly has been sick. REALLY SICK. First it was a cold. Then it was lingering congestion in my nose. This affliction lasted until I ate some enchiladas from San Loco in Williamsburg. Those bad boys made yours truly vomit with such gale force it made Hurricane Katrina look (or at least feel) quaint.

This came to pass not just once, but TWICE. After the second time the Mister asked me what I thought about the new bathmat/rug arrangement he had created in the bathroom. He prides himself on being handy that way. Believe it or not, I did notice his handiwork (and for the record it is quite nice: white flowers on a pretty carnation pink background), it’s kind of hard not to when you are hunched over a toilet holding onto a towel rack for dear life. A white knuckle ride through a sunshine smile.

I assured the Mister that I thought his creation was quite nice (and thanked him) I shuffled off to bed. I slept for four hours. When I later awakened I noticed something quite remarkable: my congestion was GONE! Apparently rancid, half-digested enchiladas expelled from my proboscis were able to do what Tylenol PM and a lot of bed rest couldn’t: allow me to breathe in an unobstructed manner. If the National Institute of Health didn’t have more pressing matters to attend to I would strongly recommend they look into this.

But I digress.

If there is a lesson to be learned here it is this: there’s an upshot to almost anything— or at least it can always be worse. Which brings me to the following from the Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Arts, a paper I would like to mention that yours truly usually enjoys reading. In addition, Genia Gould is a very nice lady. In other words, I do not relish what I am about to write— but I am going to write it anyway.

I do not know if any of you, dear readers, have read this tome— but you should. Not because this piece is particularly informative (for the most part it isn’t— although the Friends of Barge Park, AKA: Greenpoint Playground and Dupont Street Playground, were interested to learn their park is being “under-utilized”— but I’ll go into that later). Rather, it is a textbook example of the kind of “puff piece” which invariably seems to follow the Parks Department— especially in North Brooklyn— getting negative press. And negative press they did indeed receive.

What happened at the Red Gate (AKA: Nick’s) Garden* is nothing short of a fiasco. I would even go so far as to say that under ordinary circumstances someone would get fired for this level malfeasance/incompetence/arrogance. But this is no ordinary situation: we are talking about the Parks Department. ANYHOO…

As you probably imagine this article was the source of some discussion on the (unofficial)  CB1 Yahoo Group. Yours truly even said her piece:

Speaking as someone who lives pretty close to the Greenpoint/Dupont Street Playground I can personally attest that I have never seen Ms. Thayer there. I have, however, seen a fair number of families with children patronizing it. Perhaps by “under-utilized” she means not garnering her sufficient column space in the local papers or catering to the newer, more affluent influx which is obviously her bread and butter?

Let’s face facts: this park has been waiting for bathrooms, a basic human necessity, for years. I do not see this changing in the foreseeable future either. Toilets do not net hagiographic articles in the WGNA or make for nice photo opportunities (they should). Concerts, artists’ performances and the like do.

What’s more, what does event planning have to do with improving our community’s parks?

Anyone one with an iota of common sense would know that before you throw concerts, open skate parks and all that fun stuff you get down to basics. e.g.; repairing/upgrading the existing infrastructure and performing basic maintenance. This is something she seemingly does not grasp or simply does not care about. When you (for example) have events at McCarren Park or open a skate park (and in so doing increase its usership) you will have more people using its lavatories (which are deplorable), garbage cans, etc. What we have in place currently is inadequate. Why else would I find urine-filled bottles every time I walk by this “public” space? This is not only disgusting, it is easily preventable. Yet nothing is being done? Why?

I also feel compelled to point out that a great many of the concerts Ms. Thayer is so proud of organizing draw patrons who reside outside of north Brooklyn. While this is not in and of itself a bad thing, the fact of the matter is a number of these people do not have the sense of attachment/commitment to the community (or basic common courtesy) a resident does. They drink, they break, they leave. We, the residents, are the ones who are left to cope with the noise, trash, vomitus, etc. This not only makes one feel like he or she is a mere bystander/stranger in his or her own community (one which has been seemingly rendered into a tourist attraction), but it begs the question as to whom our parks belong? If the incident at Red Gate is any indication, the answer would be “not us”.

Laura writes: Is that payback for disagreeing with your eviction of the Red Gate Garden?

Yes, it is. Did you know that Ms Thayer was kind enough to insinuate herself into the process of getting Nick’s/the Red Gate Garden’s paperwork up-to-date? This was initially promised to be an easy process process per the initial point person at Green Thumb. Not anymore. Now we have to bargain with the very person who tried to shut down this LEGITIMATE community garden in order to keep it. This is ridiculous.

Lastly, suggesting in any way that Ms. Thayer is an expert on Newtown Creek is an insult to the many dedicated people who have made cleaning up this body water their mission for DECADES.

I have read this WGNA tome. I have reread twice over. I felt compelled to do so because quite frankly I could not believe what I was reading. This is not an article. No attempt has been made whatsoever at a fair and balanced recitation of the facts. It is propaganda and the sad fact is someone will read this and believe it. This is most assuredly why it was published.

This article, just like the concerts, ribbon cuttings and so forth are window dressing. The conditions at our parks in the meantime have not improved. If anything their increased “utilization” have placed a greater burden on their already tenuous infrastructure. No amount column space is going to change this.

We need to get back to basics. While concerts and the like are nice, they should not receive attention at the expense of the very basic and in some cases urgent maintenance concerns our parks have. If this is something Ms. Thayer is unable and/or unwilling to acknowledge then we need to get a new Parks person. One who will spend less time mugging for the camera and more time fixing our community’s parks. It really is that simple.

Not surprisingly, I have yet to receive a rebuttal. I doubt I will: what I have stated is true. In other words, there is nothing to rebut. However, I would like to make it known that two people thanked me for writing this tome. Another Parks Department/OSA dissident who aired his/her views on this public forum was not so lucky. He/she received a phone call at 7:00 a.m. this morning from our parks poobah herself. Anonymous writes:

Seven am phone call from stephanie t(hayer— Ed Note). Feel free to post that she apparently has free time to harass citizens for expressing their opinion in an open forum! (W/o my name)…

Ms. Thayer is quoted in the above-mentioned WGNA piece as saying:

…As a resident of the community I push that much harder to green North Brooklyn for my friends and neighbors.

I for one would like to take a moment to applaud Ms. Thayer’s dedication to her “friends and neighbors”. It takes an incredibly committed individual to call someone at 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning— or in the wee hours of the night (READ: 12:30 – 1:00 a.m.). Yes, Ms. Thayer has done just this on at least one occasion. Probably more.

If any of you, dear readers, have been reached out and touched by our Parks person/OSA Executive Director off-hours and/or have any other interesting interactions with this individual I would very much like to hear from you. Please post your anecdotes/tips via comments or send them via email to:

missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com

All emails/tips will remain anonymous unless you indicate otherwise. Don’t let Ms. Thayer (or her backers) intimidate you: SPEAK UP!

In closing, I regret to inform everyone that my anonymous tipster did not answer the phone this fateful morning: Ms. Thayer’s missive went to voice mail and was summarily deleted. I can only imagine what was so important so as to motivate Ms. Thayer to call this person, who she presumed to be her friend and neighbor, at such an ungodly hour. Had the shoe been placed on the other proverbial foot, I doubt Ms. Thayer would have been as charitable. In some circles phone calls in the wee hours of the morning (save in the case of emergencies, e.g.: someone dying or going to the hospital) are considered to be harassment.

Miss Heather

*For those of you who are wondering, the much-talked about trees the Boy Scouts of America planted are not faring very well. They appear to be dying due to lack of proper watering and being inundated with dog urine. In addition, the Parks Department’s removal of the fence at Red Gate managed to kill a number of plants in said garden. You can see a handful of pictures by clicking here.

Photo Credits: Trashy Phone image comes courtesy of kiminnyc

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