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Residents war over Cobble Hill Park fences

Fences make bad neighbors: Residents butt heads over Cobble Hill Park enclosures

Tear it down: Nancie Katz is leading the charge to remove the fences at Cobble Hill Park, claiming that they’re being put up so people can use the park as their own garden.
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Mr. DeBlasio, tear down that fence!

Wire fences in Cobble Hill Park are dividing more than just plants and parkgoers’ feet — they’re driving a wedge between local volunteer gardeners who insist they’re vital for protecting baby shrubs from dog poop and people’s boots, and residents who are demanding the city rip out the unsightly railings so they can enjoy more of the verdant green space.

“It’s really ugly and it makes me angry every time I see it — it makes me feel alienated from my local park,” said Nancie Katz, who started a petition that has amassed 100 signatures demanding that the city remove the fences. “I understand they want to protect certain flowered areas, but even so, are people really going to trample in there? Please, it’s Cobble Hill.”

The Parks Department first started installing knee- and shoulder-high fences in the park at Clinton and Congress streets to protect newly-planted vegetation from feet, feces, and vandals about five years ago, when the garden was in dire need of a makeover, according to the leader of the park’s advocacy group.

“The fences are there because the last few years we’ve been working really hard to restore the vegetation,” said Barbara Krongel of Friends of Cobble Hill Park, a collective of local green thumbs that has tended the small park for almost 30 years. “There wasn’t much grass, bushes were dead and the plantings weren’t protected. The sprinkler system was getting vandalized, so that needed protection too.”

But now the rampant enclosure erections are out of control, the critics charge, and are effectively blocking off most of the park from visitors and their dogs. The Friends of Cobble Hill Park have gone power-mad planting and protecting new posies, they claim, and are using the public park as their own garden.

“People want to treat it as a botanic garden — and this ain’t no botanic garden,” said local Aaron Raskin.

But Parks Department officials are ultimately the ones who decide whether to install the fences or not, the stewards say, and besides — the meadow was never designed to entertain large numbers of humans and animals, because the city has designated it as a “passive sitting park.”

If residents have a problem with the barricades, one member said, they should get their hands dirty and experience first-hand just how hard it is keeping the park looking pretty without them.

“It’s easy to point figures and say you’re doing this wrong,” said June Negrycz, who ran the Friends group before Krongel, during which time she claims she spent up to 40 hours a week watering plants there. “Why don’t those people come in and work in the dog s--- and plant the plants if they’re so visually upset with these fences?”

A Parks spokeswoman would not say if the agency would entertain the demands to take the fences down.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Grew up with this park and have been going there my whole life. Keep those fences up! The entitled transplant parents with their "can I speak to the manager" haircuts have allowed their out of control spawn to "Indigo child" their way through plantings that residents have spent countless hours trying to restore. The ones complaining are the reason we can't have nice things. Go mess up your own back yards and hands off the park.
Sept. 26, 2016, 7:23 am
Susie from Brooklyn says:
Take down the fences and put up concrete walls. Then people will miss the fences, and when you put them back they'll be happier.
Sept. 26, 2016, 9:07 am
Mike from Brooklyn says:
The only way it makes sense to tear down the fence is to make the park dog free. Not only would that keep the plants safe, but it would also allow people with dog allergies to have a green space that they can enjoy without fear.
Sept. 26, 2016, 9:43 am
Shaggy says:
What is a "can I speak to the manager" haircut?
Sept. 26, 2016, 9:51 am
Bruce from Prospect Heights says:
Newly planted vegetation need fences. See Central Park, for reference.
Sept. 26, 2016, 11:53 am
Maria from Cobble Hill says:
I want my children to play in toxic dirt with the roaches and rats.
Sept. 26, 2016, 11:59 am
Rat_Patrol_from_Ft_Bragg from DUMBO says:
Whiny ass whiners in Cobble Hill. Sad.

Move out to Connecticut, enjoy all the verdant your little heart can take, lady.
Sept. 26, 2016, 12:54 pm
Yolanda from Red Hook says:
Really? Now the problem is fences? What is next? My husband and I are third generation Brooklynites, or what is the name we are called, "left overs". We have seen the many changes, some good some not. The one thing that really gets me is why some people feel the need to change things that have been in place for many years, and really do not cause any harm if they stay, they are familiar to those of us who grew up here. Get angry and try to change something that may have a REAL positive impact on the neighborhood.
Sept. 26, 2016, 2:23 pm
Troof from Cobble Hildo says:
Anything that isn't wrapped in fencing will be peed on by dogs, whose owners can't see anything in the world beyond how precious mittens or little lord fonleroof is. And it will die.
Sept. 26, 2016, 4:25 pm
Samir Kabir from downtown says:
Are you kidding? Go to Cobble Hill park on a nice weekend day and see how the white folks trample all the greenery. In addition they lay on the hill in the center as if it is their own property. They think they own the joint. Cobble Hill Park needs the wire fences.
Sept. 26, 2016, 5:06 pm
Judi francis from Cobble hill says:
Cobble Hill Park is a wonderful little park that is cared for by engaged, dedicated volunteers who are also longstanding neighbors. The mound is accessible to lie on and the chicken wire fences protect the flowers. What's the big deal here? The real issue is the dire need for more parklands for our exponentially growing population. It would be very helpful for this woman and all others in the community to continue its advocacy for the big park down the street. We are about to lose 3 acres of park in Brooklyn Bridge Park at Cobble Hills door. Working collaboratively with neighbors to fight unnecessary housing in that park NOW - protecting those 3 acres for park use- is key. This would be a better use of everyone's time than quibbling over chicken wire used to protect flowers from dogs IMHO. Work with us on advocacy of BBP through the community advisory council - to retain a pool, to make the pier 6 dog run clean and safe for dogs and the play equipment too. And for an indoor Rex center and ice rink. That would make a big difference for cobble hillers. And thank those long serving volunteers for their efforts in this little haven while you are at it!
Sept. 27, 2016, 4:12 pm
Roy from Cobble Hill says:
This Nancie's third or fourth attempt to turn Cobble Hill Park into a dog park. Both the Cobble Hill Association and the CB6 Parks Committee have repeatedly spoken against permitting dogs to run freely in Cobble Hill Park. As much as we all love our pets, the city's second vest pocket park is too small, too close to residential properties and too well used to permit this use. Cobble Hill Park was originally dedicated to the youngest and oldest members of the community and IMHO should remain so.
Sept. 28, 2016, 12:08 pm
Joe from Downtown says:
Aren't there bigger things to worry about like the towers going up onPier 6? Where is the Cobble Hill Association on that big fence (called housing) and what exactly are they doing to preserve those park lands?
Sept. 29, 2016, 1:09 pm

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