Park in Fort Greene is anything but

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Broken glass!
Felicity Crew, another volunteer, tosses shards into a burlap recycling bag. Why? Because she cares.
Lots and lots of glass.
In the end, Danielle Levoit points out the three bags of broken glass that volunteers picked up.

Volunteers once again collected dozens of pounds of broken glass in Fort Greene Park this Saturday — the second weekend in a row that locals had to clean up a park that they say is increasingly neglected.

“It’s insane what people leave in the park,” said Shana Darabie, the founder of Broken Window, her volunteer group. “The [park workers] are overwhelmed.”

The side of the park facing Brooklyn Tech HS and the running path around the entire perimeter are particularly heavy-hit with shattered glass.

Danielle Levoit, a first-time volunteer, said that the glass was particularly bothersome to her as both a jogger and a dog owner.

“We just got a dog this summer and it is definitely giving me another thing to worry about,” she said.

Other locals say the glass is so bad that they have stopped coming to the park altogether.

“It’s the reason I never come here,” said Felicity Crew, who made an exception to volunteer in the clean-up crew.

Another group of frequent park-users is ticked off about the glass as well: moms.

“You have to watch the kids all the time,” said Jaqueline Bush, who was in the park with her 1-year-old daughter. “It certainly affects whether or not I have a relaxing time.”

Locals say that the city has been slow to respond to complaints.

“I called the other day and they said they were sending somebody out immediately, but they didn’t,” said Ariella Ben-Dor, a local mom. “Nobody really picked it up — except the parents in the end.”

City officials are quick to defend their efforts. The Parks Department has three to seven workers in the park every day, said Borough Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, adding that Fort Greene Park is especially difficult to keep clean because of its many slopes.

“Our staff has been systematically cleaning these areas, and we will continue to do so,” Jeffrey said in a statement. Other parks officials did not return inquiries for comment.

The problem may be linked to cuts that have seen the Parks Department’s budget cut by 25 percent since 2010, reducing full-time park workers citywide by almost 500 people.

In Fort Greene Park, the cuts meant the sacking of a full-time gardener this past winter, despite the efforts of a group of local citizens — the Fort Greene Park Conservancy — who offered to help pay the gardener’s salary.

Charles Jarden, the chairman of the Conservancy, says the park is suffering from the loss.

“It definitely has an impact,” he said. “That was one-extra pair of full-time hands that was removed that was addressing this issue.”

So for now, the hired hands are volunteers. By the end of the day, Darabie and her three volunteers filled a burlap sack with glass. The previous weekend, they picked up 50 pounds of shards.

Darabie says she had not originally named the group Broken Window with a glass clean-up in mind, but as a reference to the “Broken Windows” theory, which holds that small acts of urban disorder like vandalism add up to chaos on a larger scale.

“Living in New York, you just start to not notice; it’s what you see everywhere,” she says about trash like broken glass. “Hopefully we can get it closer to not being a problem.”

Broken Window has another clean-up set for Sept. 25. Call (718) 510-4623 or e-mail for info.

Updated 5:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
I am in a continuing email campaign with the Parks Dept on park maintenance in my area. I have to say, the conditions in Ft Greene with the broken glass seems worse than in my area. This is a disgrace.

I wonder just how much money is budgeted for Brooklyn park maintenance and how much each district is alloted. Is that public information?

I wonder if it could be done better and for less money by private landscapers? I'm betting YES.

And, how much was spent on the Brooklyn Bridge Park? Was it $300 million and counting? That would have been a whole lotta landscaping and litter removal.

Why bother building new parks if we can't maintain the ones we have?
Sept. 22, 2011, 8:48 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Did any of the volunteers get mugged at gunpoint? by a man, maybe 5'9 weighing about 175 and wearing clothes?
Sept. 22, 2011, 9:36 am
Dan from Clinton Hill says:
At first glance, I thought this story was a bit petty- "broken glass in brooklyn? -suprise!" But this expresses the concern of numerous people in the community, those mothers and concerned citizens who care enough to sweat the little things in their neighborhood that the city ignores. It is an excellent barometer for the progress or lack there of happening in urban america- which is becoming increasingly neglected.

To say the slopes of Ft. Greene park are the reason for untidy public space is a total joke. Shame on the city for draining our tax dollars on unwilling and lazy employees. THE CITY WORKERS DON'T CARE.
I see city workers standing around the perimeter of the parks with trash bags very often, especially in the morning hours when they are dropped off by their supervisors. More often than not they are talking and socializing, or "keeping busy" not picking up hazardous debris and dirty trash just strolling around in circles, more often than not- they are on their cell phones wasting tax $.

1 volunteer is worth 10 paid city workers. The people in the community care and are diligent with their efforts and I applaud them. The employee hired by the city is embarrassing to the community and insulting.
Sept. 22, 2011, 11:20 am
Liz from Park Slope says:
Bravo! Dan from Clinton Hill!
Sept. 22, 2011, 3:07 pm
M from ft. greene says:
good to hear! too bad people are slobs. I can't tell you how many times I see people throw their garbage on the floor. Disgusting, parents do it in front of their kids. People love to use the park for bbqs and parties but don't clean up after themselves.
Sept. 22, 2011, 3:41 pm
Yea I said it says:
Glad someone cares. The savages that trash it don't.
Sept. 22, 2011, 4:49 pm
kay from fort greene says:
i'm a regular FG park user. i think the problem is somewhat overstated. not to say it doesn't exist, but i've had many pleasant days over this last summer, and witnessed others doing the same, without too much trouble from the pounds and pounds of broken glass.
Sept. 22, 2011, 9:39 pm
Pedro from FG says:
Go for a run around the perimeter of the park and you will see plenty of glass....
Sept. 22, 2011, 10:20 pm
Shana from Clinton Hill says:
Just wanted to add that Broken Window has a blog up which will list any future clean-ups and volunteer opportunities we'll have in the future in addition to other things going on around the area.
Sept. 29, 2011, 11:52 am

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