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Park advocates fear film fest crowds will destroy damaged meadow

The Brooklyn Paper
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Some Prospect Park-lovers are outraged that a massive outdoor short film festival, billed as the world’s biggest, is coming to a popular meadow in Prospect Park next weekend, especially after the controversial Great GoogaMooga music and food extravaganza, they say, wrecked the greenspace last month.

Tropfest, a burgeoning international annual film festival that started 21 years ago in Australia, will make its Brooklyn debut on June 22 on the park’s Nethermead field. The event, which is free and open to the public, is expected to draw more than 10,000 film lovers to the borough’s backyard. Park watchdogs claim that the much-loved meadow, still riddled with muddied ruts from GoogaMooga’s massive two-day party that drew more than 40,000 revelers on May 17–18, is in no condition to host yet another extravaganza, which they say will only do more harm.

“Tropfest is, of course, going to just worsen the already significant damage visibly apparent in the Nethermead,” said Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident Seth Kaplan, who feared that the second coming of GoogaMooga would leave the park in ruins.

But park officials said that they do not expect the event, which they claim is vastly different from GoogaMooga, to do any damage.

“It is a substantially smaller event,” said Eric Landau, the vice president of government and external affairs for the Prospect Park Alliance, which manages the park. “It’s totally different in size and scope and doesn’t require nearly the same level of load in and load out as GoogaMooga did.”

Landau said that the damage caused by the music and foodie extravaganza are scheduled for repairs, but the work had yet to start due to recent weather conditions. Slated repairs will include reseeding and fencing off affected areas of the Nethermead in a restoration plan estimated to take eight to 10 weeks.

Greenspace activists say that it’s irresponsible for park officials to let another festival further trample parkland that is in such desperate need of repair.

“The damage there is just so huge that if they were going to try to repair it seriously they couldn’t have any event there,” said park advocate Ed Bahlman. “This has to be a joke. I would figure it would be cancelled or moved.”

One of the reasons why the Prospect Park Alliance allows events like GoogaMooga and Tropfest is because it is a way to generate funds to pay for operations, maintenance, and free programming, according to officials. The Alliance made $75,000 off of a rental fee from GoogaMooga and will receive a yet-to-be-finalized fee from next weekend’s film festival.

Tropfest, the brainchild of director John Polson, made its American debut last year when it was held in Manhattan’s Bryant Park and hosted by Hugh Jackman.

This year, actor and producer Liev Schreiber will host the day-long event, showing a handful of nominated short films on a massive silver screen. A panel of celebrity judges will pick the best film, whose makers will receive a grand prize of $20,000.

Food trucks will be lined up on the park’s Center Drive for the event, which will also feature live music.

“It’s kind of sad when an event with 10,000 people, a VIP area and a ‘black carpet’ is considered small,” said Kaplan.

Landau said that if any damage did occur from Tropfest, organizers of the event are required by contract to pay for them to be fixed, just as GoogaMooga’s organizers are paying to repair the damages it caused.

Tropfest organizers did not return calls for comment by press time.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.
Updated 10:12 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Anita from Park Slope says:
You would hope that the geniuses who agreed to let this happen before would have by now figured it out that destroying parkland is counterproductive.
June 17, 2013, 6:25 am
Jamie from Flatbush says:
The park has a band shell which is equipped to handle large crowds for this type of event. Trashing the Nethermead again is inexcusable.
June 17, 2013, 7:33 am
John from Windsor Terrace says:
Alliance workers are going to repair the extensive damage to the Nethermead Meadow in the same shoddy way the rest of the park is maintained. Shame to all who turned a blind eye while this was going on and continues to go on throughout the year.
June 17, 2013, 7:44 am
Frank from Prospect Heights says:
Not only is the grass destroyed, the landscape has been ruined by the vehicles that were allowed to run over the meadow before, during, and after the rainstorm.
The duplicitous response from the Alliance of saying reseeding is going to be done at some unknown point this year explains why this occurred in the first place.
The irrational decision to hold any event that requires days to set up in advance and days to remove whats left on the Nethermead Meadow is a breach of the public trust.
June 17, 2013, 8:27 am
Tom from Park Slope says:
Google maps satellite view shows patches of dirt in this meadown. Are you sure that this is really caused by the festivals and not just a longstanding feature of the park?
June 17, 2013, 9:07 am
Seth Kaplan from Prospect Lefferts Gardens says:
The damaged areas in the Nethermead need to be properly aerated and reseeded and in many places completely resodded. Simply throwing down seed didn't work last year and will not work this year. As a city gardener told me, after having 50,000 people walk on the grass "you might as well throw the seeds onto concrete for all it will do."

Despite the fact that the park has a public promise from Superfly to repair the destruction, the current pro-business Bloomberg administration seems loath to present the promoter with the kind of bill it would truly take to restore the meadow properly.

Tropfest took place last year in Bryant Park, a facility that has the capital to completely resod its lawn twice a year. Why the parks department relocated a festival that boasted an attendance of 10,000 to an already damaged area in a park that is strapped for funds is inexplicable and irresponsible.
June 17, 2013, 9:17 am
Joan from Windsor Terrace says:
The Prospect Park Alliance's inability and unwillingness to oversee the care for the park and speak out against the abuses becomes more and more obvious.
June 17, 2013, 9:27 am
Seth Kaplan from Prospect Lefferts Gardens says:
Tom, Google Maps imagery is updated several times a year. Notice the copyright dates:

Imagery ©2013 Bluesky, DigitalGlobe, Sanborn, USDA Farm Agency, Map date ©2013 Google

In addition, yes, this was caused by the festivals. And the patches you see (which myself and others photographed in detail prior to this year's GoogaMooga) are now twice as large and in some cases considerably deeper.

There is considerable media coverage of the damage caused by this year's festival including in the Brooklyn Paper. See this link for an article that included a gallery of photographs:

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/36/22/dtg_googamoogadamages_2013_05_31_bk.html

Even better yet, head to the Nethermead and see for yourself.
June 17, 2013, 9:27 am
Park User from Windsor Terrace says:
The damage to the park is overstated. However, I think if the Park Alliance is going to have an event or two on the Nethermead, they should be generating more money for it and require the any repairs necessary in an expedited manner.
June 17, 2013, 10 am
Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
The use of all the fields needs to be more controlled.
A lot of the erosion and brown spots are created by sports teams. For example there are brown spots created by pee wee base ball near the duck pond that is new.
But the googa mooga thing is just too big. And the continuous helicopter drone was the icing on the cake. Really obnoxious.
June 17, 2013, 10:02 am
Paul from Park Slope says:
There are fewer and fewer workers in the park, so the Alliance invites into the middle of Prospect Park, on a meadow no less, thousands of transient trash producing drinkers to stumble around pretending that they are having a good time.

Next year, the circus, a rodeo, dog racing, Monster Truck events...
June 17, 2013, 10:10 am
PLG resident from PLG says:
Once again- why not stage it on the LongMeadow?
I think we know the answer...
June 17, 2013, 11:32 am
sp from ps says:
Even a board member of the PPA know this is all a scam to exploit and privatize parks.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/nyregion/reducing-some-city-parks-to-the-status-of-beggars.html?ref=nyregion&_r=4&
June 17, 2013, 1:12 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
I believe it's reasonable to use these fields for public events, especially if they are free, and if they are used a few times during the summer. However, the park authorities that oversee these events must protect the park. There is a solution to this issue people! The parties involved need to get together and fashion a working plan for the future use of the park. Of note, cultural events in the park bring business to the surrounding areas, and we should not throw away this economic benefit if this issue can be resolved to the satisfaction of all. Not everyone makes their money in Manhattan or elsewhere!
June 17, 2013, 1:25 pm
Diane from Windsor Terrace says:
The mishandling and disregard for Prospect Park the past two years by everyone involved shows what the Alliance is all about. Using and abusing a public park for events that have no special need to be presented in a way that destroys a meadow for the rest of the year.
June 17, 2013, 1:47 pm
jay from nyc says:
hmmm so next up is an event letting people just take a big poo on the meadow, cause that is basically one step short of what is going on.
June 17, 2013, 5:08 pm
Kasper from Yellowhook says:
So now Eric Landau is admitting that Googa Mooga did really damage the park to the extent we were complaining about? We need more morons like him to continue to shamelessly vomit out the usual line of bullcrap about how the destruction of public-use lands in the park is justifiable for a few thousand dollars in revenue. But hey, it only takes like a year to repair the damage!
June 17, 2013, 5:11 pm
MG from Bay Ridge says:
Hey Eric, when will Bigfoot be fighting Gravedigger in the Long Meadow?
June 17, 2013, 6:14 pm
MomtoShawm from PLG says:
Why is everybody complaining, aren't these events held to help raise money for the park? Funding for the park is shrinking and it has to be maintained. If these events help to raise money so the entire park can be maintained then why is this a bad thing? Have any of you complaining about the damage, spearheaded any fundraising initiatives so the park doesn't have to rely on these events? If only we could maintain the park with criticisms, the Nethermead would be a plush jungle.
June 17, 2013, 8:53 pm
ty from pps says:
MomtoShawn -- The issue (most) folks are getting at is the cost-bentfit just doesn't work. There is more damage and disruption to the park than could ever be justified by the tiny tiny fees they charge groups like Googamooga, etc.

(There's also the whole "privatization" narrative, but...)
June 17, 2013, 9:07 pm
Vic from South Slope says:
I love the park. I love free events. I like music, food, drinking, children, dogs, even short films. But I think all major events should be at the bandshell, end of story. Why ruin a major part of the park for one event, then fence parts of that field off to reseed, right in the middle of summer, for 10 weeks! It is irresponsible. There is plenty of money in our area now, plenty of ways to raise money for the park without ruining it. Why have this event for fundraising if it is going to ruin the very thing you are raising funds for?
June 18, 2013, 3:10 am
Michael from Windsor Terrace says:
Prospect Park Alliance turned over the Nethermead Meadow on May 10 to GoogaMooga. Immediately damage was being done. They drove and parked vehicles on the grass unloading and loading. This went on for two weeks rain or shine. The meadow was treated like asphalt and no one tried to stop them.

NOW a month later without any attempt to repair any of the damage another event is given the meadow this time for 6 days and all the Alliance can do is make excuses for its bad judgment once again.
June 18, 2013, 6:06 am
Mike Castellano from Park Slope says:
The Prospect Park Alliance has been slowly destroyed over the years until you see what we have today. To them the park is just place for their promoter friends to make cash dollars on. They stopped organizing events to help the park years ago. They can only be stopped by challenging the mayor's office. But I doubt if any of the candidates know or care about Prospect Park.
June 18, 2013, 9:28 am
Steve from Prospect Heights says:
These events are not fundraisers for the care of Prospect Park, they are fund"losers".

If the Alliance was interested in protecting the landscape, this misuse would never have been an option.
June 18, 2013, 10:53 am
Carl from Windsor Terrace says:
The damage does not begin and end at the Nethermead Meadow. Hiding from taking responsibility is a tired worn out act the Alliance uses when confronted by the poor conditions here, there, everywhere around the park.
June 18, 2013, 4:17 pm
NotInMyPark from Park Slope says:
I have an even better idea. Lets make it so no one can use the park, that way the grass will never be destroyed.
June 18, 2013, 5:40 pm
old time rooklyn from slope says:
burn it down and put parking garages in ; - too many trees anyway
June 18, 2013, 6:59 pm

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