A McCarren Park PSA: Clean!

Upon seeing the above woman hosing out the womens’ “comfort station” I simply had to pay it a visit. Sure enough, the interior was wet (as she, the helpful parks employee she was, politely warned me) but everything was more or less spic and span. Inasmuch as can be expected, anyway. For those of you who have been keeping count, the cleansing (exorcism?) of the McCarren Park bathrooms took no less than five days. As for the state of the mens’ lavatory, well, I will have to leave that to you guys to find out… but it looks encouraging!

Regrettably I learned a few minutes later on Lorimer Street this most auspicious turn of events came a little too late for one north Brooklynite.


That’s rough!

What came first the cup or the crap?

Noticing a woman was headed my direction walking a dog I felt compelled to warn her. It has been my observation that canines are rather fond of such things. She thanked me and went on to opine:


I couldn’t have said it better myself. Oh wait: I did. In closing (and for those of you who are wondering) what you have just seen is not anomaly: it’s what McCarren Park looks like after any given spring/summer weekend.

Miss Heather

P.S.: You can see more pictures from my morning sojourn to McCarren Park by clicking here.

CAVEAT: It isn’t pretty.

LAST GASP: Apologies

The McCarren Park womens “comfort station” is looking a little more than worse for wear after this holiday weekend.* Special thanks goes out to Laura Hofmann for sharing this photographic evidence of what happens when you have a Parks Administrator who is more interested in throwing concerts than effecting actual, positive change in our public parks.

Miss Heather

*Apparently this public lavatory has been in the above-depicted state of disrepair since Saturday, May 29, 2010. In the morning. (see comments) For those of you keeping count this makes three days.

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

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Locked Out

March 17, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

T (who sent the above image) writes:

Attached you’ll find a pic of our lovely new park at the end west end of Greenpoint Ave.  I have no idea what this park is called, so I can’t be more specific but I’m pretty sure you know the park pictured.  I’m sure you’ll also note that the gate to this public park is padlocked and that the sun is still shining. What you might not know is that this gate has been padlocked for three days straight with no notice as to why.  I have been by this park with my lovely canine companion Kenneth twice a day for the last three days – morning around 6:30 and evening around 6:30 and never has it been accessible.  Is there something I don’t know about the park schedule that would cause it to be closed?  Also, if it should in fact be open, do you have any idea who I should complain to?  I called 311, but as I mentioned this park is not marked with any name from without and the 311 operator had no record of a park at the location so did not know who to call.  I filed a general complaint.  Is this something I can send on to our assemblyman friend?  Thoughts?  As this is pretty much the only unpaved park in my area, it’s pretty friggin annoying that I can’t get into it.

This public space is called WNYC Transmitter Interim Park— or something to that effect. Of course this information is not of much use if the 311 operator has no idea this park (if you can call it that) exists. But I’ll leave the semantics and philosophical stuff to the city. Here are four people/entities I would recommend T contact about this (or any other neighborhood) problem (in order of relevance):

I hope this has been helpful, T!

Miss Heather

UPDATE, March 18, 2010; T has some exciting news to relay! He/she writes:

I am extremely pleased to report some actual good news on this.  This morning, as a result of my 311 call, the District Manager responsible for this park called me back.  We were both on cell phones so I did not 100% catch his name but I believe it was Harmon or Carmen.  First, how’s that for promptness?!?  Awesome!  Second, he was not only beyond polite but also clearly interested in this and concerned.  We spoke for about ten minutes, the result being that he had already spoken to the employee responsible for that park who reported he had been closing it at 5:15 every day.  Harmon/Carmen explained to me that their employees are still on winter hours and that within a month, as dusk officially becomes 7 or 8 o’clock, they will switch to summer hours.

I feel it’s important to commend our public servants in this or at least note that everything functioned exactly as it should in this case.  There was the kind of promptness, concern, respect and knowledge on display that should characterize every interaction between citizens and the city apparatus.

Thanks Harmon/Carmen!!

Now At The American Playground: Chicken Feet

March 9, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

The above photographs come courtesy of a(nother) lady named Heather. She writes:

What’s up with American Playground!!! For the past two days they’ve been burning what smells like plastic on the next door construction lot (illegal?), today there was chicken parts all over… my son picked up a foot – yuck! and drunk bums that broke a pint bottle and just left the glass! Aaahhhh – is there anyone that I can give complaints to that will actually do something?

Some of you might recall I encountered a live chicken in this park two years ago: Larry Bird. This may seem like an inexplicable occurrence but when one takes into consideration that there is a poultry facility located next door it is not unreasonable to presume this is from which my feathered friend originated. As for the above-depicted item, well, I seriously doubt it simply walked there.

When I strolled down Noble Street this morning the gents at Eastern Poultry were busy hosing out their trucks.

Don’t let their dour, business-like demeanor fool you: my presence was a source of considerable mirth. Or at least that’s what their wolf-calls and whistles would suggest. Amusingly enough when I started filming they got “shy”. No worries, when I stopped they resumed their “merrymaking”.

I have already expounded upon the standard operating procedure for this complaint (and any other, for that matter): call 311, file a complaint, get a complaint number and tender this number along with any and all details to your local community board*. Given that we’re probably dealing with illegal dumping of material that is (or I would consider to be) hazardous I would also forward this information to:

1. The New York City Parks Department (who, I would like to note, had an employee cleaning this space when I walked by this morning).
2. The New York City Department of Sanitation
3. The New York State Department of Environmental Protection
4. Our City Councilman: Steve Levin
5. Our State Assemblyman, Joseph Lentol

If anyone out there has more advice for my friend Heather please tender them via comments. This is not only unacceptable, it is disgusting and a public health hazard. Our community deserves better than this.

Miss Heather

*It should be noted that Community Board 1 (which serves Greenpoint and Williamsburg) is having their monthly meeting TONIGHT.

McCarren Park Photos Du Jour: Meet The Meat!

Ever since I shared the good news about the hunk o’ mystery meat at McCarren Park I have received a number of inquiries from folks horrified, amused and everything in between. All had more or less the same question on his/her mind:

What the hell is that?

I have been asking myself this very same question. So I put on my coat and headed down to investigate the matter personally. I go the extra mile for my readers.

I am pleased to announce that as of 12:16 p.m. today this curious culinary item is still there!

It measures exactly ten inches long…

and appears to have once belonged to a sea animal of some kind in cow or bull’s mouth (see comments).  Yummy.

Miss Heather

New York Shitty Day Starter: Park Of The Month!

Many of you are probably not aware that our very own McCarren Park has been chosen by the New York City’s Parks Department as January’s  “Park of the Month”! Follows is the press release announcing the good news from the Park’s Department web site:

McCarren Park has been named January’s Park of the Month. Bordered by Nassau Avenue, Bayard, Leonard and North 12th Streets, McCarren Park has been providing endless recreation opportunities for people in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint areas of Brooklyn for more than 100 years. The nearly 36-acre park is a gathering place for the community, with space for kickball, soccer, bocce, handball, basketball, football and tennis, along with running tracks, walking paths and playgrounds for children.

“For more than a century, Brooklyn families have treasured McCarren Park’s infinite opportunities for fun and relaxation,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Thanks to the continued involvement and dedication of neighborhood residents and community groups, McCarren Park is benefitting from many recent improvements, with the additional support of our public-private partnership with the Open Space Alliance of Greenpoint/Williamsburg. A ‘rad’ new skate park and a restored pool are among the major initiatives to ensure that the park remains the recreational hub of Greenpoint and Williamsburg for many years to come.”

A sweet skate park, complete with steps, ramps, wedges, cheekwalls, pyramids and combination ledge obstacle, was completed in October 2009. Funded with over $800,000 from a DEC grant, the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg, it allows Brooklyn skateboarders to practice their ollies, grinds and other tricks, while trying not to slam on the concrete.

This winter ground was also broken at McCarren Pool as a part of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative. The original McCarren Pool was a majestic New Deal-era structure with huge arches and enough space for 6,800 swimmers, but it was closed in 1984 after almost 50 years of use. With the leadership of Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel, Community Board 1, and a $50 million allocation from Mayor Bloomberg, McCarren Pool will again bring refreshment to the hot summer months beginning in 2012.

McCarren Park was named after Patrick Henry McCarren, a Cambridge, Massachusetts native who went to school in Williamsburg. After working as a cooper along the waterfronts, McCarren turned his attention to politics, soon rising through the Brooklyn Democratic Party to win election to the State Assembly in 1881 and the State Senate in 1889. Following McCarren’s death in 1909, the site previously known as Greenpoint Park, was renamed after him.

Major renovations transformed McCarren Park in the 1910s, including the construction of a running track that transformed into an ice skating rink in the winter, tennis courts, a platform for dancing, play equipment for children and fields for baseball, football and soccer. Brooklyn’s first children’s farm garden opened on the site in 1914 where “little farmers” grew radishes, beets, carrots, beans, onions, lettuce and corn. Around the same time, the garden’s “Farm House” was used by clubs and church groups as a social meeting place.

Renovations at McCarren Park are still continuing today to modernize the park and turn it into the pride and joy of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Not only is the pool being restored to its original glory, but in March 2008, Parks installed $920,000 worth of night lights over the soccer field to extend playable hours. May 2006 marked the completion of an entrance garden named after Thomas Stofka, the late Director of Brooklyn Forestry. In 2005, Parks renovated the running track, while replacing the worn out dust bowl with a synthetic turf soccer field.

Park of the Month introduces some of our greatest parks and recreation centers to curious New Yorkers and visitors alike. Visit www.nyc.gov/parks for more information about McCarren Park and an archive for past featured parks.

My buddy Queens Crap (who brought the above corker to my attention) writes:

Who writes this shit?

I don’t know, but it is apparent this is the handiwork of someone who has not been to McCarren Park. There are a number of lovely parks in New York City. McCarren is not one of them. But this is not to suggest this public space does not have its singularly unique charm. CASE IN POINT: the following item which was found there on Super Bowl Sunday by Orange Genius. It is entitled “WTF?!?”

The Mister: What is that?
Me: A piece of meat.
The Mister: What kind of meat?
Me: I dunno. Mystery meat. It appears to be wrapped in newspaper. It kind of reminds of something from the Godfather.
The Mister: Maybe it’s the Park’s Department press release?

Miss Heather

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