by Joe Anuta
The city Parks Department renovated Grover Cleveland Park in June of last year, and on Feb. 28 it unveiled plans along with the NYPD to fix the way people use the green space.
The department responded to recurring complaints from the neighborhood about the hoards of people who crowd the park in the summer, according to one concerned citizen.
“After the renovation, I was assuming that everything would work as it should,” said John Perricone of Citizens for a Better Ridgewood. “But we had the same sort of problems.”
A major concern has been the packed multi-use sports fields of the park. Sports leagues often take over the fields without a permit required by the department, according to Perricone. And the teams play at the exclusion of the residents who do not belong to a league but want to use the park.
To combat the problem, the department suggested reforming its permit process. It would limit the number of weekend field permits from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. so more community members could use the field.
“Go on a regular Saturday during the summer and you can see that it’s really overcrowded,” Perricone said. “There’s been a lot of congestion with soccer leagues, and we want to make sure that they have valid permits.”
Perricone said that he became suspicious when several sports leagues would take over the fields weekend after weekend. He said that it would have been difficult to obtain permits to do so from the Parks Department, which monitors all of the leagues.
“It’s unusual to see how one league can obtain permits for consecutive weeks,” he said.
But playing fields are not the only areas suffering from overcrowding. Cars often double park along the streets that border the park, according to officers from the 104th Precinct.
Double parking is dangerous and presents problem for people crossing street and emergency vehicles, police said.
Police said that they would be monitoring the situation and issue citations when needed.
The officers encouraged residents to walk to the park or take the bus as opposed to driving, since parking is limited.
Some cars had even parked in the bus lane. And they were not the only ones.
Food vendors had also set up shop at the bus stop, as well as engaged in several illegal activities like dumping fryer oil down catch basins and cooking with open flames according to police.
But contrary to many residents’ beliefs, it was legal for the food vendors to be present.
Nevertheless officers from the 104th Precinct will also be on the lookout for the illegal activities so everyone in the community can enjoy the park.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.