Prospect Park After GoogaMooga: “No Longer a Meadow—An Abandoned Lot”

I felt conflicted about the Great GoogaMooga, the music and food festival that recently took over Prospect Park: on one hand, I live and write about Brooklyn everyday, and I feel like I should be present for large cultural events; on the other, I love Prospect Park and am sympathetic to the critics who say the damage incurred to it isn’t worth the paltry sum the park nets from the festival. Luckily, I had been given tickets for Sunday, which was rained out, so I didn’t have to confront this moral dilemma this year. Unluckily, the Nethermead, the meadow in the middle of the park on which the festival was held, still had to suffer two days of festivalgoers’ feet—plus many more of load in, set up, break down and load out.

The “Nethermead meadow is in severe distress and is in far worse condition than it was left in from the fiasco last year,” parks advocate Anne-Katrin Titze tells us. “It’s no longer a meadow; it looks like an abandoned lot where blocks of houses were demolished ruining the landscape with the imprints of the structures removed remaining and the construction vehicles running A-MUCK.” (That’s a pun; last year she called the post-Mooga meadow a “mud hole,” and today says, “with drenching rains in the forecast, [get ready for] Mud Hole, the sequel.”

The Prospect Parks Alliance will soon begin reseeding the meadow; regrowth should take months. “Sections of the Nethermead will be off limits for most of the summer, thanks to a two day food fetish fest,” Gothamist reports. “We’re really looking forward to lounging on the freshly grown grass in November. Maybe we can eat Thanksgiving dinner on it.” (The alternative is sodding, which is faster and much more expensive. The festival organizers could have paid an extra $20,000 for post-festival sodding, but, you know…) “Fall is the proper time for attempting to rejuvenate a lawn, not over the summer in an urban park,” Titze tells us.

We’ve had two GoogaMoogas now, and both were beset with problems beyond the damage to the landscape. Last year’s logistical problems seemed to have been smoothed out this time, but then it turned out you can’t Mooga in the rain. The festival is a good idea: it makes sense to bring together Brooklyn’s celebrated foodmakers. But it doesn’t make sense to do it in Prospect Park. “This should only be held on a concrete parking lot,” Titze is fond of saying, “not in the heart of the only forest in Brooklyn.”