The New York City Parks Department has denied The Christmas Marathon's request for a permit to hold a Christmas morning run in the Bronx's Van Cortlandt Park. In response, the Christmas Marathon has issued a scathing statement illustrating the reasons that the Parks Department is on their naughty list this year.
Calling Parks "the Grinch," the Christmas Marathon claims they no longer feel welcome at Van Cortlandt Park, despite hosting a "successful" marathon at the park last year. Perhaps this is because, as a Parks Department spokesman tells us, "this group started last year running these races in the park and they've called it the Holiday Marathon. Last year they had a Christmas Marathon, however, the permit was not granted but they ran it anyway. There is no long running tradition." So who is really on the naughty list this year?
In any case, here are some of the grievances outlined on the Christmas Marathon's Web site:
8. At a meeting with Parks official on 12/12/2011 we were told we would never be allowed to use our standard 6.55 mile/1/4 marathon course again, despite 9 successful races on that course. We were also told no running is allowed on the Old Croton Aqueduct or the Putnam Trail. Parks said this was because of concern over damaging environmentally sensitive areas.
9. We find this logic troubling being that the Parks plans to pave the Putnam Trail and increase its width from 8ft to 15ft. Wouldn’t this project damage environmentally sensitive areas much more than runners who stay on existing trails?
13. Parks denied us a permit for our 2nd annual free Christmas run (2011). We applied for the permit on 9/6/2011. They waited until 12/5/2011 to issue us a denial! They denied us for Christmas. They claim that they couldn’t find Parks staff to work the overtime - overtime which the Holiday Marathons pays for.
16. Parks told us we could no longer put orange streamers on trees to mark our course. We promptly remove these streamers after each race. Yet Parks plans to cut down 1.5 acres of trees to pave and expand the Putnam Trail.
18. Parks informed us that we would no longer be able to accept donations in the park for our free community runs. No donation boxes allowed.
19. Most of the issues that were suddenly imposed on us came directly from Van Cortlandt Park Administrator, Margot Perron. She has fought us on every detail. She has a reputation for being difficult that most people we’ve spoken to, from her own staff, elected officials, local schools and organizations that use Van Cortlandt Park, confirmed. Almost weekly there are articles in the Riverdale Press about the mismanagement of Van Cortlandt Park.
21. ...PARKS IS THE GRINCH!
The Parks Department tells us, “We permit thousands of special events in the Bronx each year, and hundreds in Van Cortlandt Park, but we do not approve event permits on holidays," Adding, "large events require staffing and on Christmas day it's difficult to get people to come in." But what if the Christmas Marathon offers to pay the Parks' employees overtime? The spokesman told us he was not aware if that was even offered.
And so the Christmas Marathon has canceled their Van Cortlandt Park holiday run indefinitely, but they are still offering marathoners the opportunity to run off all those Christmas cookies at Tibbett's Brook Park in Westchester.