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.