When you go down the list of appropriate ways to utilize a public park, throwing a wholesome daytime party for a bunch of kids is pretty high up there. Still, in the wake of last weekend’s Worldwide Day of Play (a free, ticketed event thrown by Nickelodeon for over 35,000 children), people are pretty pissed, on account of the fact that the Nethermead portion of the park is now back to its old ragged, post-Googa Mooga self. And the fact that its inevitable destruction during major events seems to be more and more inevitable with each one.
Brooklyn Paper spoke with several concerned locals, all of whom said things like “The Prospect Park Alliance’s idea about proper uses for the park are loathsome,” “We are witnessing a for-profit private land grab in the heart of Brooklyn,” and “It is so disheartening after events like these to see the blatant disregard for our backyard.” None of which is wrong, necessarily. If you’re lucky enough to live close to Prospect Park and go there all the time, it would be frustrating to find one of its most beloved areas shuttered for five days for a private event that left the place tattered and trampled. But then, the park could also probably really use that $150,000 Nickelodeon paid them for the privilege. Which is the crux of the problem with all of these huge events in Nethermead (Googa Mooga shelled out $75,000 for the space, for instance).
“We have a mission to bring different types of events to the park for the public and we have a responsibility to restore, maintain and preserve the park,” said a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance. “And these events do bring in revenue, so it is sort of two-fold.”
Which is fair enough. The park has to make ends meet somehow. And the question of how public parks should drum up funds is a complicated one (our own Henry Stewart has an excellent post about it here) until, say, our public officials go ahead and decide to fairly distribute full funding to all of our city’s crucial green spaces? Har har har. Until then, maybe no more children’s parties here? And definitely no maddening, overpriced food festivals.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.