Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow Removal Disparity: Prospect Park Vs. Central Park - Pt. 2

Pathways around the Lake in Prospect Park have not been cleared since the initial blizzard on December 26th which has created dangerous icy conditions. A lone French barricade stands guard on the lake. Three barricades were placed along the 60 plus acres of lakeside presumably to warn the public to stay off the frozen water. Sub-freezing temperatures are expected over the next five days. (Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze)

Tale Of Two Parks: Much of the asphalt pathway around Conservancy Water on the Upper East Side in Central Park was not only dry but the water in the pond had been lowered and sections had been cleared for free ice -skating. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


The snow removal disparity has spilled over into the park world as dangerous icy pathways in two of the city's flagship parks are not getting the same attention.

Twenty-four days after the initial blizzard that blanketed the city many of Prospect Park's miles of paths have still not been cleared causing public safety concerns a critic charged. Paths around the Lake for instance are solid and have become impossible for visitors to differentiate between the icy, snow-covered Lake and the snow-covered ground. (Sub-freezing temperatures are expected over the next five days.)

On January 2nd, a dog drowned at the Lake when its owner, Viviane Arzoumanian, allowed her 5-year poodle off her leash. The Yorkie died while chasing a bird onto the icy lake.

"Due to the disrepair of stonework along the borders of the 60 acre watercourse the lake and meadow visually merge, " Anne-Katrin Titze, a frequent visitor to the park said. Footprints dot the Lake as evidence of the public's use.

According to Ms. Titze three metal French barricades were placed along the 60 plus acres of lakeside on Sunday after she emailed park officials on Friday. On Sunday morning one of the barricades was found on the frozen water.

"Paths for weeks around Prospect Park remained un-cleared. Walking paths have been left to become a slick, frozen, treacherous tundra," Anne-Katrin Titze noted last week. "In Prospect Park on Tuesday, January 11, 2011 before the new snowfall, we had at least 12 inches of hardened snow and ice left over from the December 26th, 2010 storm. At that time 16 days and counting. We have a lack of timely garbage collection and removal most of the year and the rest of the year ice and snow remains covering walking paths until the spring thaw."

On Thursday WPIX TV's Greg Mocker filed a story comparing snow removal in Brooklyn's
flag ship Prospect Park to Manhattan's Central Park. The "snap shot" showed an entrance at Vanderbilt St. and pathways in Prospect Park where a shovel had clearly not been used and paths near the Arsenal, the Parks Department's headquarters off of Fifth Ave. The areas highlighted by the report have still not been cleared as of Monday.

"On the southern and eastern sides the only path cleared is the one at Lincoln Rd. going up to the Boathouse and it stops there." Anne-Katrin Titze wrote today. " A walk into and around the lakeside is hazardous and the footing has been unsteady for weeks now."

The conditions throughout Central Park however reveal a very different experience. All of the park's entrances were cleared within a few days and much of the park's more than 20 miles of paths have been cleared. Park workers can regularly be seen clearing snow and chopping away at remaining ice patches.

Much of the asphalt pathway around Conservancy Water on the Upper East side between 73/74th Street was not only dry but the water in the pond had been lowered. Sections had been cleared for free ice-skating which began over the weekend.

Resources: Central Park has an annual operating budget of $ 27 million dollars for 843 acres as compared to $ 12.7 million for Prospect Park's 585 acres. Central Park also has more than nine times the amount in assets: The Central Park Conservancy has $192.4 million in assets as compared to $ 18 million for the Prospect Park Alliance according to their latest audited financial statements.


Ms. Titze said she and a companion walked through the lakeside this morning and the unplowed paths from December 26th were covered with hardened, slick ice.

"The thaw of the past 48 hours and the refreezing has led to conditions even more treacherous."

She said that three dog owners fell going to the Nethermead and two lost control of their dogs.

Prospect Park administrator Tupper Thomas explained Thursday evening they were keeping with the park's long held policy of not clearing snow on pathways in certain areas, preferring instead to keep a more natural, pastoral setting.

Ms. Thomas explained the park's main arteries were cleared, the drives, main entrances, and routes where people went to work. She also said paths leading to structures, and where public programs were offered were also cleared. She voiced her opposition to using salt and chemicals especially around the Lake.

The park head does not see a safety issue with not clearing pathways around the lake. "People in Brooklyn know where the Lake is. An asphalt path doesn't not make the Lake more obvious. Its not supposed to be a place to take long walks in High heels. We're not Central Park."

She acknowledged that the park does not receive as many resources as Central Park but that did not factor into their decision to leave certain areas uncleared.

"Its a park. Its winter, its looks beautiful. The less asphalt the better."

Ms. Thomas said her last day will be January 28th. Former Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd will step into the new role as Prospect Park Administrator and Prospect Park Alliance head. - Geoffrey Croft

Prospect Park - uncleared pathway around the Lake. (Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze)

All Roads Lead To Bloomberg. The path nearest to the Mayor's house in Central Park has been meticulously cleared of snow including the cobblestone under the benches.



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