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Pit stop: BBQ holes at Cooper Park divide W’burg

The Brooklyn Paper
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A spat over grilling in Williamsburg is pitting neighbor against neighbor.

The city’s plan to build a barbecue pit with 10 grills and several picnic tables in Cooper Park has sparked a controversy that has engulfed the small green space near Maspeth and Morgan avenues, leaving park regulars weighing whether the meat is worth the mess.

“The concern is that the park just cannot handle the added traffic and waste generated,” said Williamsburg resident and barbecue pit opponent Simon Braeutigam. “As it stands, the park is already drowning in refuse by the end of the weekends.”

A Boy Scout troupe and several volunteers planned to begin clearing the site in Cooper Park’s northeast corner to make room for North Brooklyn’s first sanctioned outdoor cooking area on Saturday — but the work was postponed amid the controversy.

The city only allows barbecuing in designated areas in its public parks, though residents have set up illegal makeshift grills in the open space for years.

More than 80 residents including many tenants at a public housing development one block from Cooper Park lobbied city officials last year to include a barbecue pit in the renovation plan — and the city acquiesced.

Supporters say the fire pits, one of the first amenities in an extensive $2.6 million park renovation plan, can’t come soon enough.

“We’re not allowed to barbecue on NYCHA’s property and this would give us a place to barbecue and enjoy the taste of grilled food during summer,” said Cooper Park Houses resident and Community Board 1 member Karen Leader. “We want it to be here in this park.”

But members of a community group fear the grillers will leave their garbage in one of the last undisturbed corners of the park — and may even scorch nearby trees.

“I’m concerned that the last remaining green space in the park might be lost to a larger picnic area,” said Cooper Park Neighborhood Association member Steve Garrelts.

Parks leaders are confident the pit would keep grillmasters in one place, making it easier for parks staff to manage and clean up after them.

“It’s a better way to supervise and enforce the area,” said Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey.

But some food critics have threatened to demonstrate at the site against the grill stations and send a message to the city.

Cooper Park Houses activist Julia Foster wishes her neighbors would give the protests a rest and let them have their fun.

“It makes me annoyed to deny us this space,” said Foster. “This is something we’ve wanted in Cooper for a while, just a little area for us to cook.”

Updated 5:32 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Park too small from Williamsburg says:
Attend the community board meeting this coming Monday and voice yourself: on the agenda, BBQ in Cooper park.
May 3, 2012, 10:12 am
Park too small from Williamsburg says:
Attend the community board meeting this coming Monday and voice yourself: on the agenda, BBQ in Cooper park.
May 3, 2012, 10:12 am
Cooper Bark from Williamsburg says:
Did any resident (excluding Cooper Park Houses' resident), or owners receive notification of any hearing for the park change recommendation? I researched it online when they posted that small sign about the BBQ pits being put up in the park, and to help support the "boyscouts". 1: what boyscout, never seen them around. 2: All the newspaper pointed and alluded the changes are best for Cooper Park Houses, but are they the only residents of the neighborhood? 3: The meeting was held at Cooper Park Houses, own by NYCHA, why didn't they hold it at Cooper Park, own by NYC Parks and Recreation, or posted flyers around the park?... I smell a RAT grubbing for votes from the 699 tenants at Cooper Park Houses.
May 3, 2012, 4:52 pm
Jon Taylor from Williamsburg says:
What a lame ass idea. It sounds good--on Ozzie and Harriet maybe in the 50s. But in reality who wants to have that —— outside their house? No one. How about 4 pits? But 10? What are they going to rename this neighborhood "Tailgate." I know what this is--some politician trying to make noise for themselves, being "for the people." Tell them to come clean up every day and turn down the music, and pick up the diapers and restore the grass once a month in season. What a crazy stupid idea. If I lived on this park I'd be really, really bummed.
May 5, 2012, 3:19 pm
mc from 11211 says:
Cooper Bark,
Right on. This is all about politics, and little about the parks department care-taking our green space responsibly.
May 9, 2012, 12:27 pm
Crawford1 from Northside says:
How can we fight this project? I don't want a green space turned into a party space.
May 10, 2012, 8:45 am
green tranquility lost from Cooper Park says:
Well, they did it! 80 signatures in NYCHA housing over 100's of signatures from Local renters and owners surrounding Cooper Park. The stench of political gain to the local offices of Councilwoman Reyna and her cronies (Kevin Jeffrey and the others) is astounding. Now, Cooper Park has NO MORE green space. Gone. They stole it from us and nobody cares. They allowed the Volleyball players to completely destroy the Green Grass over by Olive Street, the other green grass at the Sharon street entrance and now, with the EIGHT BBQ pits in a tiny cubic square area where there were about 2 tall trees and a short winding path, we have NO PLACE to go in Cooper Park that is not "occupied"....the goal was to remove ANY semblance of just a "green space". A place to sit and/walk where there's just trees and grass. The requests of a few far outweighed the request of many for the ultimate gain of the politicians. Always political gain over best interest of health and majority. Never fails. *sigh*
June 2, 2012, 9:48 pm
30 Debevoise from Cooper Park Houses says:
I find it disturbing that for all of your whining, none of you have a solution for where residents of the projects should go to bbq. I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that the ones complaining haven't lived in the neighborhood long enough to be rightfully "outraged" at one meager concession granted to long-time residents of this community.

Your Manifest Destiny mind state has blinded you for sure. "Diaper cleanup"? Really? Say what you REALLY want to say without the code speak. We don't eat diapers, do you? Oh wait. Maybe you're somehow implying that once we change our children that we discard their sullied wears on the ground.... WHERE WE EAT!!?? GTFOH!

Stop the nonsense and have some humility. You're not "losing" anything but your decency by protesting so hard against folks that just want to enjoy the park as much as you do.

Shame on you.
June 24, 2012, 12:44 am
shawnna from Williamsburg says:
You want green grass go to central park there's plenty there for you to sun bathed on
June 15, 2014, 7:13 am

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