Illegal barbecuing in Prospect Park has gotten so out of control this summer that officials are deploying park rangers to crack down on a wave of grillers that even included one man pulling in a huge apparatus fit for a suburban backyard.
Complaints from non-BBQing park users has led the Prospect Park Alliance to send in the rangers to remind people that grilling is only legal in nine designated barbequing areas.
“Our staff is definitely trying to be vigilant,” said Alliance spokesman Eugene Patron, who acknowledged that more people have been cooking in the park this year. “We have rule cards that the rangers give out to people that explain fire dangers and tell them how to properly dispose of their hot coals.”
It’s no surprise that the Alliance is concerned about the smoky haze that has been covering vast portions of the park on summer weekends. Even casual users of the park have noticed that grill-toting families are setting up camp wherever there’s a nice patch of grass.
“The other evening I took a run and the haze of smoke around the park was incredible, you would have had to see it to believe it,” Park Sloper James Burt told The Brooklyn Paper. “[The other day], I even witnessed someone wheeling in a huge Sears Kenmore gas grill. That definitely seems excessive.”
Another resident, Jen Bettencourt, was at the park over Memorial Day weekend, and saw most of the grillers blatantly ignore the park’s restrictions.
“It was so crowded that people basically parked their stuff wherever they could find a spot,” Bettencourt said. “There were adults, children and pets trying to navigate around smoking barbeques. The whole thing is just one big accident waiting to happen.”
Patron noted that visitors to the park who continue to disregard posted grilling regulations will be kicked out, but he stressed that as a last resort for handling the situation.
“We obviously don’t want to have to ask anyone to leave, because everyone should be able to enjoy the space however they choose,” Patron said. “We just ask that everyone be respectful of other people and of park rules, and that they let the rangers know if there are any problems.”
Designated barbecue areas are adjacent to entrances at Third Street, Grand Army Plaza, Ninth Street, 10th Avenue, Parkside Avenue, Vanderbilt Street and Parkside Avenue at Parade Place.