NYC Parks; COVID-19; Prospect Park; Litter
Photo Credit: FLICKR

Prospect Park was treated like trash by a large group of weekend partiers who left behind record high piles of litter, Daily News reports.

On Monday morning, joggers were left stunned by the amount of garbage piled up in a section of the Nethermead. Food scraps, liquor bottles, bodega bags, camping chairs and plastic cups has all been discarded on the field.

“This is just the worst I’ve ever seen it — and it’s my favorite area in the park,” Carole Crewdson said, who has walked regularly in the park for 40 years.

Kevin Williams, got a trash bag from a park worker and began picking up the litter after sleeping overnight in the park. He said a party of some 2,000 people lasted until around 3 a.m.

“I’m shocked Prospect Park allowed this to happen. They need to pay me per hour to do this job,” Williams said. “The partygoers are in bed sleeping and Prospect Park is in chaos. We’re left here looking at the mess they created…This is a sacred part of the park.”

Littering is very common in the park during the summer, especially after big holidays. But budget cuts due to COVID-19 have only exacerbated the already existing issue of trash piling up within the park. Crowds have swelled as city parks became a vital refuge due to restrictions on bars and indoor events.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks have lost critical funding, and our seasonal workforce is significantly smaller compared to last summer,” the Prospect Park Alliance wrote on its website.

The Alliance once had the means to fund its own summer weekend cleanup crew in previous years, but that money dried quickly due to the pandemic, a spokeswoman said. The Alliance has lost roughly $3.2 million in revenue due to COVID-19 closures.

“Prospect Park is showing serious signs of wear and tear, and without our normal workforce, we need our community to pitch in and help keep this cherished green space thriving,” Sue Donoghue, President of the Prospect Park Alliance, said earlier this month.

One park-goer attributed some of the mess to the Park’s growing homeless population. But the amount of trash, wine bottles, and food indicated a large, organized event had gone awry.

“Yeah they had a damn party, but they shouldn’t have left it like this! They make us look very bad,” Kendell Baptiste said, a local who slept in a tent roughly 30 yards from the mess. “It looks like they threw a party — a good one. But then they didn’t clean up.”

The park has called for volunteers to help pick up trash each Monday in August.

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Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at Williams College majoring in Political Science and Art History.

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